The UConn women’s ice hockey team had one of their better seasons this past year, filled with many highs and some lows. Despite the season not ending how the team hoped it would, the best way to sum up the season for UConn is that it was a productive one.
Coming into the year the Huskies were looking to rebound from their 2018- 2019 season, in which the team went 14-18-4. UConn played two exhibition games against Ryerson University and Connecticut to prepare for the upcoming season. UConn won both games while showing flashes of the team they would become later in the season.
The Huskies got off to a good to start, heading into the Icebreaker Tournament with a 4-2-0 record. During this period, they rolled off some impressive wins, like the 4-0 and 6-1 wins over LIU, and a 4-3 overtime win over Merrimack College.
It was also during this time that UConn found its identity and playstyle for the season. This was a team that played hard every possession, played fast the entire game, and forced their opponent to work for every goal on offense. It did not matter if they were winning by five or losing by three, no matter the score they were going to play with their best effort.
Congrats to our 2019-20 Team Award Winners‼️
— UConn Women's Hockey (@UConnWHOC) April 1, 2020
No player exemplified this mentality more than Natalie Snodgrass, who quickly became one of the most important leaders on the team. Snodgrass can simply do it all on the ice. Need a quick goal? No problem as she is excellent at scoring, leading the team in goals with 16. She also does a great job of getting her teammates involved as evidenced by her 17 assists on the year. Snodgrass also led the team in total points and shots taken.
Snodgrass was not the only husky to have a great season, as there were plenty of others who contributed as well. Catherine Crawley and Briana Colangelo were tied for second on the team in assists, with 16 each. Every player was locked-in on defense every night and willing to do what it took to win. They were very unselfish, and it showed on the ice.
Despite the momentum heading into the Icebreaker Tournament, UConn lost both of their matchups. So how did the team respond to these two losses? They came out and won four of their next five games. UConn then proceeded to lose three games in a row. This became a common pattern throughout the rest of the season for the Huskies as they were on their way to a 19-18-2 record. UConn’s biggest wins of the season came against rival Boston College, as they won the season series 2-1.
The Huskies finished fifth in Women’s Hockey East, which set them up with a matchup against Boston College, the same team that knocked them out last year, in the Women’s Hockey East Quarterfinals. The Huskies had talked about wanting to make up for last season’s performance against Boston College and they had the opportunity to repay the favor by knocking the Eagles out of the tournament.
What followed was one of the best series of the tournament. Boston College took game one by score of 4-2. UConn won game two 2-0 to force a game three. Whoever won game three would be moving onto the next round of the tournament, and both teams showed up ready to play for game three.
The Eagles scored first in game three taking a 1-0 lead in the second period. While the Huskies played solid defense, they were unable to get anything going on offense. It appeared that UConn was going to need a miracle not only to get back in this game but win it with the way things were going.
The thing is though, this UConn team did not need a miracle. They made its own miracles occur and that is exactly what they did in the third period. In the final minutes UConn scored to tie the game at 1-1. A little over three minutes later, they scored again to take a 2-1 lead which sealed the victory, sending the Eagles home and the Huskies onto the next round.
The following weekend UConn cruised to an easy 4-0 win over the University of New Hampshire in the Semifinals. As mentioned earlier, this had been an up-and-down season for the team. At points they looked unbeatable, and at other times it looked like they might miss the tournament altogether. But this team believed in itself and what they were doing, and now they were heading to the Women’s Hockey East championship.
UConn was to face Northeastern University in a battle of the Huskies. Unfortunately, UConn was not able to come away with the win, as they suffered their worst loss of the season, losing 9-1. Even though the season did not end on a positive note, that should not take away from all this team accomplish the season. They went on a run that no one saw coming but them, and they turned in quite the exciting season even though it did not end with a championship. While the loss still hurts, it will not keep this team down. They will learn from this experience and use as fuel for next season as they look to become champions.