Cornell women’s hockey will look to build on a productive preseason after welcoming a talented freshman class into the program. The Red (13-14-4, 9-9-4 ECAC) had a somewhat inconsistent season last year; the team hopes to find solid contributors amongst its new freshmen.
Already, head coach Doug Derraugh said he is happy with what he has seen from the newcomers.
“We have a large freshmen class that has come in and worked hard over the summer,” he said. “They’ve gelled well with the upperclassmen and brought a lot of energy to the group.”
Adjusting to the expectations of a storied Cornell hockey program is something that every player experiences in a first season. With time and in-game experience, players come to understand what is required to play at a high-level in the ECAC.
Nonetheless, with freshman expected to contribute this season, the coaching staff and upperclassmen have tried to develop team chemistry as quickly as possible.
“The team does a lot of things together from the start of the school year until now,” Derraugh said. “We’ve had a lot of practicing and training and also team building activities.”
Cornell’s returning players have also taken initiative to make the freshmen feel welcome in the program.
“The upperclassmen have done a very good job of welcoming [the freshman] to the team,” Derraugh said.
This togetherness amongst the players has helped the team develop a positive attitude heading into the season. Team members say they feel upbeat and poised to take a step in the direction of the dominance the Cornell once had in the ECAC.
“We have a young team that is really excited to get started,” Derraugh said. “[The team] is chomping at the bit to get the games rolling.”
An early characteristic of this season’s team is the desire to get onto the ice each day with an eye towards improving.
“They want to get on the ice and get better,” Derraugh said. “They are enjoying the process so far.”
It will be crucial for the Red to continue this type of attitude throughout the season, as the team must improve in all areas of the game.
“I don’t think there is one specific part of the on-ice equation that we have to target,” Derraugh said. “We need to find scoring from more than just one or two players and be more committed to better defensive team play.”
Luckily for the Red, the team is welcoming back its leading scorer from last season, senior forward Hanna Bunton.
“Hanna is a great all around player,” Derraugh said. “She has a heavy shot, a nice wrist shot and is physically very good out of the corners.”
Derraugh noted Bunton’s commitment to both offense and defense as an example of strengths the program prides itself on. Cornell has long sought fundamentally sound, versatile players and asks them to do a lot on the ice.
The freshman will look up to players like Bunton in hopes of establishing themselves in the Cornell lineup. The team will have three out of conference matchups before starting ECAC play, which will allow the team valuable time to evaluate the young players.
Cornell welcomed Carleton to Lynah this past weekend for an exhibition and showcased its potential for dominance with a 10-0 win. Bunton finished with two goals, along with four combined goals coming off the sticks of freshmen Paige Lewis, Amy Curlew and Jaime Bourbonnais.
In just one exhibition game, it seems that an offseason of bonding and team-building has already paid dividends. The freshman have taken note of Bunton’s prowess and found a home for the next four years.