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UMass women’s club hockey to take on Holy Cross

For the first time in Massachusetts history, the women’s club hockey team will face off against Holy Cross on Oct. 24. The matchup will occur on the Crusader’s home turf in Worcester, MA.

This Saturday’s game will be the first time a majority of the Minutewomen will get their first minutes on the ice in a competitive hockey game.

Sophomore Ashley White, a transfer student, will be starting her first UMass game in the right wing position.

White described her feelings for the upcoming game as “nervous and excited,” but she thinks the team is prepared for this challenge.

Holy Cross is a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference, so this game, win or lose, will not affect the Minutewomen’s overall standings since it is a non-conference game. UMass will face Penn State the following week who plays in the American Collegiate Hockey Association along with UMass. The game will give the Minutewomen their first mark on its record.

However, this does not mean the game will be taken lightly or serve less of a purpose. UMass coach Chris Cobb believes this is the perfect opportunity to see how his team, with its addition of 13 new players will work together when faced with such a high caliber opponent.

“This is a good chance to get out there before facing Penn State on Oct. 30,” Cobb said. “My expectation for my team is to get out there and experience its first hockey game”.

Kyle Mack, a senior and member for four years, is more than ready to see this team, which she believes has the ability to have a successful season, come together as a whole while on the ice.

“I’m pretty excited and I know the team is eager to play,” Mack said. “We’re going out there with a 100 percent positive outlook”.

Cobb knows that Holy Cross (24-2-1, 2008) will be a tough opponent to keep up with, mainly because of its speed. In order to prepare for the game, practice consisted of a lot of system work, along with allowing his team to play five-on-five to simulate a real-time game.

He feels more than ready to face the Crusader’s, due to his team’s depth and four strong lines.

“Holy Cross has a short bench, they only have three lines,” Cobb said. “We’ll have to fine-tune our systems and they do have good goaltending”.

Despite the loss of some key players, such as Maura Grainger, recipient of the ACHA Zoe M. Harris National Player of the Year Award at the end of the 2009 season, leadership is not lacking. Cobb recognizes Captain Hayley Kuhn for stepping up as one of the Minutewomens leaders in the past weeks.

“She has developed into a great leader and has helped the team come together as one,” Cobb said.

Assistant captains Sam Mack and Catherine O’Brien also helped to welcome and bring together this young team.

The 2009-10 Minutewomen have a big role to play after last year’s successful 16-7-2-1 season. Along with a solid record, UMass finished second in the ECWHL. Despite his success with UMass, Cobb’s attitude towards the game remains level-headed and team-oriented.

“Success starts with leadership in the locker room, which we have achieved,” he said. “I feel very prepared and take this as a good opportunity to see where we need to get better”.

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

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