Winter sports preview: ice hockey and basketball look for championships

Sophomore+Sara+McNamara+looking+for+a+loose+puck+in+team%E2%80%99s+opener+on+Oct+28.
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Winter sports preview: ice hockey and basketball look for championships

Sophomore Sara McNamara looking for a loose puck in team’s opener on Oct 28.

Sophomore Sara McNamara looking for a loose puck in team’s opener on Oct 28.

Crier\Tim Mannila

Sophomore Sara McNamara looking for a loose puck in team’s opener on Oct 28.

Crier\Tim Mannila

Crier\Tim Mannila

Sophomore Sara McNamara looking for a loose puck in team’s opener on Oct 28.

Glenn Krzeminski, Sports Editor

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The temperatures are dropping and, with the month changing over to November, the fall sports teams on the Hilltop will conclude their seasons soon. This means some of the winter sports squads will begin their respective campaigns: men’s and women’s ice hockey and basketball.

Women’s ice hockey had a remarkable season last year going 21-6. The team made it all the way to the NEHC championship where they fell in OT 4-3 versus Holy Cross College. One of the most memorable games for the team took place on Senior Day. The Hawks beat Saint Mike’s 10-0 in a conference matchup with the Purple Knights.

Junior defensemen Jacqueline Guy is excited to see this team in action:  “We are very quick, that will bode well for us, she says. All teams in our league have size and might be bigger, but we are way quicker.”

The squad won their opener 3-2 in the friendly confines of Thomas F. Sullivan Arena Friday night against the Ravens of Franklin Pierce University. Saint A’s outshot Franklin Pierce 39-18.

Junior Ashley Moran scored the opening goal in the contest midway through the first period on a shot from the left point. The Ravens responded 28 seconds into the second frame on the power play to even up the game at one apiece.

The back-and-forth game saw the Hawks regain the lead after senior Alex Starzyk ripped a shot under the bar on a feed from Alison Butler with 5:05 left in the second period. Just 45 seconds later the Ravens tied the game up again. The score stood at 2-2.

The power play proved large for Saint A’s after sophomore Caley Mueller stuffed home a rebound. This turned out to be the eventual game-winner giving the Hawks a 3-2 victory in their opener. Saint A’s remained unbeaten all-time in season openers and stayed undefeated against Franklin Pierce all-time.

As for the men, they were selected as the preseason favorites to win the NE-10 this season. Remember, last year the team shutout, archrival SNHU 3-0 in the semifinals, and were ready to face Stonehill before members of Saint A’s came down with the mumps. The game was cancelled, giving the Skyhawks the automatic championship.

Senior alternate captain Brendon Kerrigan says on beginning the season, “I am happy we are starting away; starting at home for the first game emotions can be running high. The first game on the road will be better because you are going to be facing adversity. Getting out some of those first game jitters is really good to do on the road.”

The men begin their season on the road for three games against Castleton, Skidmore and Salem State before coming to Manchester for their home opener Friday, Nov. 11 against Norwich.

Kerrigan went on to talk about the importance of the NE-10 games: “They are of utmost importance.  Every game every team we play has to be a playoff mentality, or else we can get beaten by anybody. We have to out work teams and be good defensively in order to win games.”

Basketball starts its season in two weeks. The women had one of their program’s best starts after making the NE-10 playoffs and receiving a bid to the NCAA Division 2 tournament for the first time in 17 years. The Hawks had a strong season and look to build upon it heading into this year.

Junior Jillian Fama says, “Our goal is to win an NE-10 championship. We have been practicing since the beginning of August because we went to Spain. We have been building up to it since then.  We have the talent to win the conference.”

The men also look to have a big year after coming off a 23-8 regular season in 2015. The team lost in the NE-10 semifinals to SNHU and fell to Stonehill in the Sweet 16 of the Division 2 March Madness tourney.

“We have a great group coming out,” says sophomore Cody Ball. “Looking at the rest of the league we think we are one of the top contenders.  We are looking at a championship every year here. Being at Saint Anselm we are expected to be at the top of the conference.”

The Hawks open up against their crosstown rivals from Southern New Hampshire University Nov. 14.

The winter sports teams all look to have successful 2016 campaigns on the Hilltop.

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