Women’s hockey: Recapping the 2016-17 season

The women's hockey team falls to UNH 4-1 on senior day at the Freitas Ice Forum on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2107. The Huskies one goal was scored by freshman forward Briana Colangelo. (Amar Batra/ The Daily Campus)

The UConn women’s ice hockey team (14-18-4) was swept last weekend in the women’s Hockey East quarterfinals by Northeastern. This marked the end of Chris MacKenzie’s fourth year as head coach of the Huskies. It’s now time to look at what the program achieved this year.

For the Huskies, the best moment came in the middle of the season between November and December. In November the team won four matches, including a 7-1 win over Merrimack. They had two ties against Vermont and Yale and they lost to No. 10 Quinnipiac.

In December, the Huskies split a series with the third-best team in Hockey East, Boston University, and winning 2-1 on the road. The Huskies defeated BU for the first time since the 2009-2010 season.

“Winning three games in four nights was an impressive feat.  We also had a great first half, ending with a winning record, taking points from BC and winning a season series vs BU,” MacKenzie said of his team’s season.

The team was skating well and the four straight victories gave the team confidence after a shaky start to the season.

As a young team, featuring nine freshmen and four sophomores this past season, the future seems bright for the Huskies. Some of this year’s freshmen are already shaping out to be great leaders and players on the ice.

This include freshman forward Briana Colangelo, who finished her season with nine goals, 16 assists and 25 points.

Another important weapon in the offense was Catherine Crawley. She only had four goals and six assists, but some of these points were very important for the Huskies, such as her goal in the Huskies’ victory over BU.

The defense looks to grow around sophomore defenders Kayla Mee and Jaime Fox.

Fox played 36 games, tallying two goals and 10 assists, and had a point in 11 games this season. Mee, on the other hand, had six goals, eight assists and 14 points.

“I was happy with the improvement of the freshman this season.  Three of them battled injuries for most of the season so hopefully they are healthy and ready to go next October,” MacKenzie said.

The highest point for the Huskies was the breakout of junior Leah Lum.

Lum who changed her position from defender to forward, had a formidable season. She racked up 18 goals and 11 assists for a total of 29 points.

“It was great to see her get rewarded for the effort she's put in.  We had many players reach high points in their careers and we expect them to build off that,” MacKenzie said.

Lum scored a great goal against Northeastern but the team couldn’t win the contest. She was also named the Hockey East Warrior Player of the Week after she scored four goals against Vermont on Jan. 30.

The team also had their fair share of low points.

January was a rough month for the Huskies as they had a five-game losing streak that was snapped by a 2-1 win over Vermont.

In the same month, the Huskies lost three games to Northeastern.

At the beginning of the season, the team struggled with the new rules, which sent too many players to the box and created plenty of opportunities for their opponent to score on the power play.

Another low moment for the Huskies was their pair of losses to New Hampshire to close the regular season.

Beside the scoreboard, the team didn’t play poorly against UNH but there were lapses during the game where concentration was lost and that’s where the goals came.

This was probably the biggest problem throughout the season for the Huskies: lack of focus in key moments to maintain the lead or prevent goals.

In many of the games, UConn would take a lead but couldn’t maintain it. Northeastern was one of the teams that took advantage of this.

MacKenzie also said injuries were a big deal for the team.
 

“This year we lost players that combined to 100 games with injured players, which was the most in the past four years.  It happened throughout the year and hit a high point in January,” MacKenzie said.

This year, in a way, was a rebuilding year, and MacKenzie and his players can take it to the next level next season.

“On paper we will have our most talented and deepest roster in the last five years.  We believe our team culture is in a great place and we have high expectations for next season,” Mackenzie added.


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.