Norwich early favorite to repeat in ECAC East

As defending ECAC East champions, Norwich is within hours of forging into uncharted territory. Without question, the Cadets are clearly overwhelming favorites to return as league champs; a recurring cycle of 20-plus win seasons vividly tell us such. For the Cadets, it isn’t about when, it’s about how. What will be the plan as the Cadets collectively wrestle with the loss of all-everything Tori Charron?

Closing up camp, coach Mark Bolding spoke about “being different up front” going forward in relation to Charron’s absence. In all, Bolding has tested 16 freshmen during the summer, and believes that the majority are able to “contribute right away

The Cadets look to seniors Kaycie Anderson and captain Vanessa Champagne, as well as sophomore Madyson Moore, in terms of leading a hoped-for prolific offense. Bolding has more than a few highly touted defensemen among his freshman group, including Saskatchewan native Desirae Kuhlmann and North Carolina’s Kim Tiberi.

Among playoff eligibles, Castleton, Salve Regina, Massachusetts-Boston, and Manhattanville look to be able suitors for the immediate slots behind the Cadets. The Spartans and Seahawks are hoping to build off viable second-half runs with new faces behind the bench. Steph Moberg, a former two-time All American at Plattsburgh, is entrusted with the future of Castleton, while Beth McCann seeks to add to the burgeoning Salve Regina postseason resume. McCann (Northeastern University), was the driving force behind the University of Rhode Island ACHA hockey club for 15 seasons (304-128-26).

Massachusetts-Boston hopes to enhance its newly developed defensive stature that fashioned five shutouts along the way. A Manhattanville bounce-back from a less than stellar season is a strong possibility, given the experience and character throughout the roster. Goalie Liz Bergstrom offers Southern Maine ample opportunities to garner wins when pitted against higher ranked clubs.

Castleton
2013-14 Record: 16-11-2 overall, 10-5-2 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: Lost 4-0 to Norwich in the ECAC East conference championship.
Coach: Steph Moberg (first season)
Key Returners: F Anna Daniels (14-17-31), F Lisa Kilroy (10-15-25), F Brie Narodowy (8-7-15), F Rachel Bombardier (6-8-14), F Taylor Steadman (6-3-9 in 17 games), G Paula Stephens (1.66 goals-against average, .944 save percentage, 11-8-2)
Key Departures: F Nicoline Jensen (15-9-34) to University of New Hampshire
Outlook: The Spartans’ team symmetry reached a crescendo down the stretch, proving to be problematic for opponents. With 17 returners, the stage is set for another strong run to remain among the top clubs in the conference. Defensively, Castleton hosts a wealth of experience. Goaltender Paula Stephens, a big-game performer, has the added security of six defenders who all played in at least 28 games a year ago. New coach Steph Moberg’s club could develop a a few hiccups in the early going without leading scorer Nicoline Jensen in the line-up following her departure to the D-I ranks.

Manhattanville
2013-14 Record: 8-14-4 overall, 6-7-3 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: Lost 3-0 to Massachusetts-Boston in opening round of ECAC tournament.
Coach: David Turco (41-32-9, fourth season)
Key Returners: F Sydney Asselstine (15-14-29), D Rachael Morrison (2-9-11), F Alla Traun (11-13-24), F Michele Meggiolaro (8-16-24), G Kirsten Saughnessy (2.51 GAA)
Key Departures: D Caitlyn Beauvais (2-1-3)
Outlook: A cadre of battle-tested seniors are in place in hopes of erasing the memory of the Valiants’ first losing season in program history. Solid up and down the sheet, coach Turco will need everyone on the same page from the gate, a plan that failed to play out last fall. Asselstine, a dynamic scorer, joins an experienced duo in Traun and Meggiolaro. With departure of defensive stalwart Beauvais, Morrison takes over the Valiants’ power play that struggled, sputtering to a success rate of 11.8 percent.

Massachusetts-Boston
2013-14 Record: 12-11-4 overall, 7-8-1 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: lost 2-1 to Norwich in ECAC East tournament semifinals.
Coach: Colleen Harris (42-51-12, fifth season)
Key Returners: D Samantha Fallon (16-3-19), F Alyssa Sullivan (6-11-17), G Moe Bradley (.939 save percentage., 1.38 GAA)
Key Departures: F Katie Loiselle (7-9-16), F Courtney White (3-5-8)
Outlook: The Beacons bring back four of their top five scorers. Fallon piloted a power play that fashioned an 18.6 success rate overall, but over 20 percent in the months of January and February. In all, nine different skaters notched goals with the advantage. Bradley and Casey Schaejbe combined for a 9-5-2 record in a team-wide resurgent second half. Sophomore blue liners Kat Armstrong and K.C. McGinley have a season of experience in the bank and should be ready to step in and contribute from the get-go, joining seniors Angela Dandreo and Kelsey MacIsaac and junior Alexa Cappione.

New England College
2013-14 Record: 3-23-0 overall, 3-14-0 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: Lost 8-1 to Norwich in ECAC-East quarterfinals.
Coach: Kristi Kehoe (3-23-0, second season)
Key Returners: F Marisa Roth (4-7-11), Mackenzie Meegan (3-7-10), F Kellie McLean (6-0-6)
Key Departures: F Alexis Fitzpatrick (4-4-8), F Kristen Dehm (3-4-7), D Jamie Tabb (2-1-3)
Outlook: Losing two of their top four scorers is surely not conducive to building on a three-win season. The departure of defenseman Jamie Tabb, who headed the Pilgrims’ power play unit, leaves little room for a lengthy learning curve in NEC’s own end. Kehoe brought in five newcomers to the mix in hopes of solidifying the all-around defensive posture.

Nichols
2013-14 Record: 4-21-0 overall , 2-14-0 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: none
Coach: Wil Brown (4-21-0, second season)
Key Returners: F Grace Murphy (15-22-37), G Tori Gianformaggio (.916 save percentage), F Talia Hohmann (5-10-15)
Key Departures: G Francesca Palazzo (2-10-0), D Megan Gerein (3-2-5)
Outlook: The Bison’s success, or lack of it, will depend mainly on defending in their own end. Coach Brown’s crew was outshot by a 952-578 margin over the season. Goaltender Tori Gianformaggio has upped her game considerably since her sophomore season, but help is sorely needed for her to excel.

Norwich
2013-14 Record: 27-4-0 overall , 16-0-0 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: Lost NCAA D-III Championship final to Plattsburgh 9-2.
Coach: Mark Bolding (152-41-13, eighth season)
Key Returners: F Madyson Moore (14-4-18), F Kaycie Anderson (5-13-18), D Taylor Cross (3-13-16), G Taylor Fairchild (15-3-0, .924 save percentage, 1.49 GAA) G Loren Carrier (9-1-0, 1.49 GAA)
Key Departures: Tori Charron (29-17-46), Emily MacKinnon (8-10-18), D Brittany Sharman (1-17-18), D Kayla Parsons (0-18-18), D Marie-Philip Guay (6-10-16), Meghan Papagno (9-4-13)
Outlook: Having lost a staggering 55 percent of their goal-scoring output, the Cadets went the proactive route, welcoming more than a dozen new players to the fold. Coach Bolding expects a majority of his recruits to offer contributions immediately. In spite of facing a transitional season in a personnel sense, the Cadets have a strong hold in players who’ve experienced a championship environment on a consistent basis. Goalies Taylor Fairchild and Loren Carrier are both capable of bolstering their teammates on an off night if required.

Plymouth State
2013-14 Record: 5-19-2 overall, 3-11-2 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: Lost to Salve Regina 5-0 in the ECAC East tournament first round.
Coach: Ashley Kilstein (11-55-9, fourth season)
Key Returners: F Marisa Zamrock 5-6-11), D Courtney Sollows (0-6-6), F Kelsey Cosby (2-5-7), F Kelsey Lynch (4-4-8)
Key Departures: F Meghan Cassidy (4-4-8), F Jane Baruch (1-4-5), D Tasha Wyatt (1-2-3), G Ali Ponte (4-14-2, 2.84 GAA)
Outlook: Tied for 47th in the nation in team offense in 2013-14, the underclass-heavy Panthers are looking for support for leading scorers Marisa Zamrock, Kelsey Lynch, and Kelsey Cosby. Coach Kilstein will request aid from seven new faces to supplement the hard-earned experience of a handful of sophomores.

Salve Regina
2013-14 Record: 16-7-4 overall, 10-5-1 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: Lost to Castleton 5-0 in ECAC East tournament semifinal.
Coach: Beth McCann (0-0-0, first season)
Key Returners: F Sarah Markey (12-13-25), F Taylor Shepherd (10-13-23), D Amanda Cronin (6-10-16), G Colleen Marcik (11-5-4)
Key Departures: D Shannon Coleman (6-3-9), F Monika Borkowski (1-7-8)
Outlook: The Seahawks rolled into the postseason harboring an 8-1-1 slate through their final 10 games of the regular season. The offensive core remains intact, as does the goaltending crew. Michaela Chiuccariello registered 101 bids on goal last season and remains the Seahawks’ leading sniper. Salve’s defensive outlook took a hit with the graduation of Coleman, but the coaching staff will hope to counter with five incoming defensemen.

Southern Maine
2013-14 Record: 10-15-1overall, 7-9-0 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: Lost to Castleton 1-0 in ECAC East quarterfinals.
Coach: John Lauziere (73-117-21, ninth season)
Key Returners: G Liz Bergstrom (8-10-1, 2.42 GAA), F Julia Pearl (6-6-12), D Tayla Bent (2-6-8)
Key Departures: F Erin Banfield (12-6-18), F Bridget O’Brien (5-3-8)
Outlook: Outshooting the opposition more often than not, and posting a 5-5 one-goal game record, bodes well for a team that lacked a boatload of overall experience. Replacing Banfield’s numbers and overall presence will prove challenging. Pearl plays both ends of the ice with visible adroitness. The Huskies, not shy in pushing their defensemen forward, received points from all eight returning defensemen.

University of New England
2013-14 Record: 9-11-5 overall, Independent in 2013-14
2013-14 Postseason: none
Coach: David Venditti (9-11-5, second season)
Key Returners: F Gabby Crugnale (10-10-20), F Emily Corrales (9-8-17), D Cassandra Connolly (1-9-10), G Sydney Helmbrecht (.942 save percentage, 1.79 GAA)
Key Departures: F Jenni Poulin (12-8-20)
Outlook: Possessing a roster laden with underclassmen, coach Venditti will undoubtedly experience the undulating emotions that go with said dynamic. Jenni Poulin’s 20 points are a significant void to patch on the offensive side. Coming out of camp however, a number of prospects have emerged as possible candidates for night-in and night-out front line production, including junior forward Marissa Clifford-Biederman and sophomore Shannon Smith, who finished with 12 points in her initial campaign.

Holy Cross (D-I)
2013-14 Record: 18-8-1 overall; 11-4-1 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: Lost 2-1 to St. Anselm in ECAC Women’s Open.
Coach: Peter VanBuskirk 214-125-26 (15th season)
Key Returners: F Nicole Giannino (12-14-26), F Rachel Miller (9-9-18), D Izzy Bagi (4-11-15), G Alexandra Stevenson (10-3-1, 1.33 GAA)
Key Departures: F Kylee Sullivan (9-4-13)
Outlook: The Crusaders are a familiar group, with 19 letter-winners back on the ice. Holy Cross enjoyed a plus-38 goal differential. Expect consistent outings throughout the first portion of the campaign.

Franklin Pierce (D-II)
2013-14 Record: 18-4-2 overall; D-II Independent
2013-14 Postseason: none
Coach: David Stockdale ( 25-18-2 (third season)
Key Returners: F Karsyn Baker (17-15-32), F Colleen Doucette (7-15-22), D Hayley Arnold (3-10-13), G Shannon O’Neil (9-1-1), G Noelle White (9-3-1), F Marisa Ketterman (11-9-20)
Key Departures: F Jamie Wiley (5-10-15)
Outlook: Franklin Pierce recorded a clean 12-0-0 record on home ice last year. Baker doubled her goal output of her freshman season. Combined with Doucette, whose play-making improved dramatically, and sophomore Marisa Kettermann, the Ravens remain in good stead offensively.

St. Michael’s (D-II)
2013-14 Record: 3-19-4 overall, 2-12-2 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: Tied Sacred Heart 1-1 in ECAC Women’s Open Tournament
Coach: Chris Donovan 56-263-15 (15th season)
Key Returners: F Amanda Kempainen (5-3-8); F Erin Dwyer (4-4-8); F Fernanda Saavedra (2-10-12); D Emily Loebs (3-5-8)
Key Departures: F Macey Thomas (7-6-13)
Outlook: Statistically, the Knights displayed slight increments of overall improvement since the 2010-11 season. St. Mike’s offensive-minded skaters will benefit from an influx of six freshman. The level of advancement remains questionable in Colchester.

St. Anselm (D-II)
2013-14 Record: 24-3-0 overall, 14-2-0 ECAC East
2013-14 Postseason: ECAC Women’s Open Champions
Coach: Kerstin Matthews 114-39-9 (seventh season)
Key Returners: F Alison Quinn (14-13-27), F Alex Kazmer (12-14-26), F Tiffany Herron (11-13-24), F Alexandra Starzyk (14-7-21), D Franny Nicholson (2-16-18), G Hannah Synnott (11-0-0, 1.69 GAA)
Key Departures: F Courtney Winters (10-20-30), D Andi Foss (6-10-16), D Jacqueline Bouchie (1-15-16)
Outlook: Alison Quinn brought an exciting, dynamic element to the Hawks as a freshman. With Winters no longer on board, expect Quinn to act as the catalyst in improving everyone on the ice. It’s another lofty campaign for the Hawks.

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