Last year proved to be a magical season for the Massachusetts women’s ice hockey team, which finished eighth in the country and eighth in the national tournament held in Minnesota.
The Minutewomen went into the tournament as the eighth-seed and finished in that position after losing their three pool play games to Lindenwood, 0-5, Grand Valley St. 0-5 and Michigan State. 2-6.
UMass coach Chris Cobb expects success from his program, which has gone 45-30-4 since he took over the head coaching position in 06-07.
Although last season was a success, Cobb and the Minutewomen are looking for more.
“Our expectations are to improve on last year” Cobb said. “We think that if we play to our potential then we can contend for a national championship.”
The 2010-11 campaign looks to be just as exciting for the Minutewomen, as they have some formidable opponents on the schedule including five of the top six ranked teams in the nation from last year.
“We don’t have an easy game,” Cobb said. “We have 23 season games, and 19 are against teams that were in the national tournament last year. We always have good games with Lindenwood and Rhode Island is one of our biggest rivals.”
Opponents will be aware of the Minutewomen more than previous years not only because of last year’s results, but also because they enter this season ranked seventh in the nation and third in the Eastern Region behind only Liberty and rival URI.
The Minutewomen graduated only four seniors from last year’s team and have 25 of their 33 players returning. They will bring eight newcomers to the ice this season
“We have some very talented young players coming in this year,” Cobb said.
Cobb will rely on sophomore forward Brittany Resendes to do much of what she did in her freshman campaign when she led the team in scoring and points with seven and 17, respectively.
“Our leading scorer, Brittany Resendes, is back,” Cobb said. “I look for her to improve on her freshman year and expect her to put up big numbers for us.”
“Also, we will need Catherine O’Brien to score,” Cobb said. “She was a quiet contributor last year.”
Cobb and the Minutewomen will need her to return to freshman form, when she totaled eight goals and 17 assists if they expect to contend for a national championship.
O’Brien tallied eight goals and five assists for 13 points in 2010-11. O’Brien looks to add to her 23 career goals in her final season with the Minutewomen.
While there is a lot of pressure on the Minutewomen to return to the national tournament this season, Cobb makes sure that the important things stick.
“Just having fun, our main goal is to have fun,” he said.
The Minutewomen open their season on Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. against the Spartans at the Mullins Center Practice Rink, where they will look to avenge last year’s tournament loss.
Patrick Keller is a Collegian Correspondent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.