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Minutewomen look to continue ’08 success

As tryouts and preseason practices come to a close for the Massachusetts women’s club hockey team, “doing work” is the main theme in mind for this team.

Do work is the motto they live by, practice by, play by and win by. The 16-7-2-1 team ranked second in the Eastern Collegiate Women’s Hockey League and sixth in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

The Minutewomen came close to advancing to the championship after making it to the quarterfinals of the National Tournament and the year before when they advanced to the Final Four. This year, UMass is set on winning it all.

Losing five seniors and gaining 13 first-year players does not seem to have a negative effect on the team’s positive mindset. UMass coach Chris Cobb feels that this young group is good enough to win the championship.

“This is the best team I’ve been able to coach,” Cobb said.

Cobb also believes the key to winning this season is “to play as a team with no star players and everyone must take ownership.”

The defense will be much stronger this year, despite some young goal-tending. Goalie Christen Eulian, an Honorable Mention All-American, graduated after the 2009 season and left a spot filled by two freshmen and a sophomore.

Cobb also believes that the offense had a lot of depth. However, he believes that alone does not get the job done, but that “great balance and hard-working girls is what will transform this team into winners”.

One of the offense’s biggest losses is forward Maura Grainger. In the ECWHL league she was named as a First-Team forward, and was named to the Nationals All-Tournament Team. Her biggest achievement last year was when she received the ACHA Zoe M. Harris National Player of the Year Award.

However, the Minutewomen have three new leaders who will be expected to step up and help the team. Captain Hayley Kuhn, a senior and member for four years, remains positive about the young group of girls and feels that a mixture of new recruits will add even more talent. Kuhn is accompanied by two assistant captains, senior Sam Mack and junior Catherine O’Brien.

The women will play 30 regular season games, which will involve a lot more traveling than last year. Virginia and Michigan are two states the Minutewomen will visit this season, with hopes of making it to Colorado, Illinois and Michigan the following year. There will be an additional two games for the ECWHL playoffs, and five more for the National Tournament to give a total of 37 potential games this season.

UMass will have its chance for revenge when two-time defending National Champion’s Lindenwood visits the Mullins Center in early January. Lindenwood was the team responsible for knocking UMass out of the tournament in a triple-overtime win last year.

The first home games will be at the Mullins Center on Friday Oct. 30 and Saturday Oct. 31. Rival Penn State, a NCAA Division III powerhouse, will visit and is sure to pose a challenge to the Minutewomen. Cobb prides the fact that his team is one of the only ones that succeeds against NCAA opponents.

He hopes to start off his third season as head coach on a positive note this Saturday, Oct. 24 in Worcester, MA.

UMass will find out how well its work ethic will fare as it faces off against Holy Cross, who won 24 games and lost two last season. This match will serve as one of the many challenges the Minutewomen must face in order to reach the National Tournament this year.

Geena Lombardi can be reached at glombard@student.umass.edu.

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