2019 is the first year that Springfield College has not one, but two club ice hockey squads. The men have enjoyed success over their club’s history, winning the last two Northeast Collegiate Hockey Association Colonial titles, and it seems their success has rubbed off on the women’s team.
Through the first half of the season, the team sits at 4-4-1 and second place in the Adirondack Division West. Union College leads the AD West with a 7-1 record, their only loss coming from the Pride on Nov. 9. Between the AD West and AD East divisions, the top two teams from each division make the four team playoffs. If the season ended today, the Pride would be in.
“We were surprised by it, we didn’t realize we were in second place,” sophomore captain Sam Foulkroud said. “Hopefully we can stay there.”
Coming into the season, the expectations of how the season would play out were up in the air. The experience on the team varied, not to mention that this would be the first time the players played together as a team, with only a few practices before their first ever game.
“We’re definitely doing a lot better than expected, because we’re just coming in and we didn’t know what to expect from the other teams, we didn’t know how we were gonna be,” Foulkroud said. “But we’ve been pretty impressed with ourselves.”
“I think most of our team is here to have fun,” senior captain Julia Rodrigues said. “Winning has definitely been a plus on the season.”
The team’s chemistry has improved through every practice and game. Not only has the bond between the players helped the Pride succeed, as the season has progressed the team roster has only increased.
“We’ve gained a lot of numbers through the season, in the beginning our numbers were pretty low.” Foulkroud said. “Our first couple of games we only had seven or eight players which was tough, now we’re up to 15 players with two goalies which is great. Everyone is learning as we go, which is great to see, we’re meshing as a team.”
Sophomore Nicole Sedler has been one of the leaders on the ice for the Pride, as she has put up solid numbers all year. Averaging just over a goal per game and just under an assist a game, her contributions have been vital to the Pride’s early success as a program.
While racking up some great wins this year has been a huge milestone for a team’s first season, it’s not all about the victories for the Pride this year. Not only is this the debut season of women’s hockey on Alden Street and in Smead Arena, for many this marks the first time many of the women on the team have played hockey their entire lives.
That list includes one of the three seniors on the team, Rodrigues who is also a captain.
“I always wanted to play, so getting to (play) has been awesome,” Rodrigues said. “I wish I could be here longer to play.”
Part of the team’s early success has come from the guidance of head coach Thomas Verrico, who is the assistant director of intramural and club sports at Springfield College. He was a key factor in helping Foulkroud, Rodrigues, and Ashley Pilling established the women’s ice hockey team at Springfield, and has been a huge help in bringing the team together this year as the head coach.
“Tom brings a pretty interesting energy to our games and our practices, it’s a lot of fun with him and our assistant coaches” Rodgrigues said.
It’s been a whole team effort from the coaching to the players to help this club run smoothly. Senior Jaime Peck, the team’s manager, has left his mark on this season’s success off the ice. He is the equipment manager, records stats for games, and helps with setting up drills during practices.
“For a first-year team I think we’re pretty happy where we’re at,” Peck said. “We had a disappointing weekend this past weekend but we’re sitting at 4-4-1 and have beaten some pretty good teams this year. It’s been great to watch the girls in the program throughout the year and we’re pretty excited for the future.”
Last weekend the team played their last set of games for the fall semester dropping a weekend double header to Paul Smith’s College. They will have over a month of rest before their next home match against Smith on Jan. 24. The team has three more games scheduled for the remainder of the year, but are actively working on scheduling a few more.
“We’re trying to schedule a game against Westfield State since we haven’t played them before,” Foulkroud said. “They’re not in our division, but we can play games outside of it.”
Before the Pride had even played a game, the team was asked what their goals for the season were; to which Foulkroud replied; “Maybe just win one game”. That was followed by sophomore Reese Earle yelling “Yoffs baby!” in the distance.
Halfway through the season, the ‘yoffs are within reach.
Featured photo courtesy Jack Margaros