Allyson Noenickx ’19
The Holy Cross Women’s Ice Hockey team faced Brown University in a home-and-home series last weekend. The Crusaders dropped both games to the Bears, including their home opener.
On Friday night the Crusaders travelled down to Providence to face the Bears on their home ice. Maeve Reilly ’19 recorded her first goal of the season to tie the game at one, but the Bears came back with two unanswered goals, defeating Holy Cross 3-1.
In their home opener the following night, Holy Cross managed to outshoot Brown 32-27, but could not find the back of the net. Brown took the lead in the first on a power play goal and netted tree more to defeat the Crusaders 4-0. Brown’s Lizzy Gross earned a hatrick on the night and Shay Maloney picked up three assists.
The Crusaders will host their debut Hockey East game tonight against the #6 Boston College Eagles. This is the Crusaders’ debut season in Hockey East, perhaps college hockey’s most prestigious and competitive Division I hockey league. With the addition of Holy Cross, the growing Women’s Hockey East now stands at 10 teams. Last season the Crusaders were in transition as an independent Division I program. Prior to that they dominated the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC), competing against Division III schools.
Head Coach Peter Van Buskirk discussed the significance of the program’s first Hockey East game in this week’s Holy Cross Coaches’ show. “It’s really big and we’re really excited about it,” said Van Buskirk. “I know over the years some of the past players are excited about it as well. We often thought about when that day would come and now it’s here. We’re ready for it.”
Senior forward Danielle Doherty ’19 echoed the excitement for the Crusaders Hockey East debut. “As a kid you always grow up wanting to play Division I hockey,” said Doherty. “The seniors now, we’ve worked really hard since freshman year and we’re here now so we’re just giving it everything we have and leaving it on the ice.”
The Crusaders have had to make many changes in the last few years to prepare for the transition to Division I, including staffing changes and recruiting more talented classes. “We definitely vamped it up in the weightroom,” said Doherty. “It got a lot more competitive–we’re battling more in practice. I think the speed of the game is the only thing that’s really changing going from that level to this level. We’re all there, it’s just a matter of time until we get that first win.”
Despite the Crusaders 0-5-2 record so far this season, Coach Van Buskirk remains optimistic. “We had to get used to the speed and I think we have. Now it’s a matter of finishing off plays––not only towards the net, but out in the open ice as well. It has been a little hectic at times, but our good moments of play have increased. We’re really encouraged by out last seven games.”
While it may take the Crusaders a few games, if not a few years, to adjust to the level of competition in Hockey East, just making this transition is a huge stride for the program. “This is obviously the league that anybody wants to be in if you’re a women’s hockey player,” said Doherty. “You hear about these people, see them on TV and the Olympic Games, so having a chance to play against them is just awesome.”
Many women’s hockey alumnae will be returning to the Hill for this historic game. The first 50 fans in attendance will receive a commemorative puck. The Crusaders will face Merrimack College, another more-recent addition to Hockey East, tomorrow night at 7 PM.
Photo by Mark Seliger