Season Preview: Women's Ice Hockey Gears up for 2017-18 Season

Season Preview: Women's Ice Hockey Gears up for 2017-18 Season

AMHERST, Mass. – Fresh off their second consecutive trip to the league finals, the 2017-18 Amherst College women's ice hockey team enter the season with a solid core of returners with their eye on improving every day while remaining contenders in the perennially formidable NESCAC conference.

Led by sixth-year head coach Jeff Matthews, the Mammoths will have to contend with the loss of six players to graduation from last season's squad that finished with a  14-8-5 overall ledger and 6-5-5 mark in the NESCAC.

"The NESCAC women's ice hockey league is undoubtedly the deepest DIII women's hockey league in the nation, which makes for some fantastic hockey games day in and day out," commented Matthews. "We have also put together one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country for this season. We have a nice mix amongst all classes, and will need everyone to contribute to the process. My staff and I are excited to start competing with this squad."

Returning four of their top-five point getters from a season ago, the Mammoths will once again look to boast a potent offensive attack after tallying 64 scores in 2016-17.

First Team All-NESCAC and AHCA/CCM All-America Second Team East All-American selection Alex Toupal '18 is set to spotlight Amherst up front after netting 19 goals and totaling 30 points to finish first in conference scoring last winter, while Emma Griese '18 is primed to continue to be a disruptive force in the corners and in front of the net and a playmaker after dishing out seven assists a year ago. 

Double-digit point getters in 2016-17, junior trio Katie Savage, Jocelyn Hunyadi and Katelyn Pantera will be consistent and dangerous offensive catalysts for Amherst. Savage, a skillful player with an knack for finding the back of the net, enters her third season after ranking second on the Mammoths in goals (8), assists (12) and points (20), while the speedy Hunyadi is prepared to build on an eight goal, 12 point season. With 11 points a year ago behind six scores and five assists, Pantera has proven to be an all-around player and a key component in transitional play.  

The Mammoths will also feature Brenna Sullivan '18, a winger with a notable wrist shot, Jamie McNamara '19, a four goal scorer last season that is poised for a breakout junior campaign, and Sarah Wagner '19 and Eliza Laycock '20, two players that add reliable, hardworking depth to the roster.

A talented group of first-years rounds out the Mammoth forwards, with Rose Mroczka, Kaitlin Hoang, Mia DelRosso, Natalie Lima and Emma Flynn all looking to make an immediate impact for eighth-ranked Amherst.

Despite the loss of three accomplished defenders, the Amherst blue line is set to return a defensive unit that is ready to carry bigger minutes this season.

Anne Malloy '20 is positioned to be a key component of the defense following a stellar rookie campaign the saw Malloy post a score and dish out 10 assists to be one of seven players to eclipse the 10 point mark, while Miriam Eickhoff '19 will continue to be a clutch difference maker – with all three of her goals from last winter standing as game-winners.

The crafty Ava Simoncelli '20 shows lots of promise entering her second season, while Kristen Molina '18, Sarah Melanson '20 and Laura Schmidlein '19 have proven to be versatile skaters that have the ability to play both forward and defense.

Opponents will have the challenging task of getting the puck past veterans Sabrina Dobbins '18, Bailey Plaman '18 and Caroline Booraem '20 – with all three keepers having earned time in between the pipes last winter. Logging 913:11 minutes, Dobbins led the way with 353 saves while allowing just 22 goals to register a .941 save percentage and a 7-5-3 overall record, including four clean sheets. Plaman (6-3-2) saw 668:28 minutes of ice time en route to making 241 stops and posting a .938 save percentage, while Booraem clinched her first collegiate victory against Salem State, tallying 12 saves to keep the Vikings scoreless in the squads 4-0 win.

Not yet a member of the Friends of Amherst Women's Ice Hockey for the 2017-18 year? Become a first-time member of or renew your membership in the FAA and support Coach Matthews and the women's ice hockey program. Make a gift ahead of the team's first contest of the season on Friday, November 17 at Connecticut College. Go Mammoths!