By Meaghan Cahill ’20
Hockey season has arrived in Friartown and the Providence College Women’s Ice Hockey Team is taking the right steps towards a successful season. They started off their season undefeated in their first three games and have provided a glimpse as to just how victorious their upcoming season can be.
Under the supervision of new Head Coach and former USA Hockey head scout, Matt Kelly, the team has been given a new perspective on the game and thus far it has made all the difference.
“Being at that level [Kelly] was given a different perspective…because he was looking at players and what they have and what they might be willing to offer…I think that his coaching ability will really show because he has been able to take that ability and apply it to the game and show how they can work that ability to the best [that they can],” commented assistant captain, Avery Fransoo ’20, on coach Kelly.
Along with a brand new coaching staff, the team welcomed three new freshmen: Ciara Barone ’22, Sara Hjalmarsson ’22, and Caroline Peterson ’22. Fransoo commented that the freshmen are a great addition to the team as they have proven their preparation for games. She added that the freshmen will be a “huge part in creating a winning environment for our team.”
The freshmen have certainly proven themselves as key players, as it was Hjalmarsson who stepped up to capture her first college career hat trick against College of the Holy Cross. Hjalmarsson helped lead the Friars to a 5-0 win. In just three games, Hjalmarsson has tallied an impressive five points overall with four goals and an assist.
“[Sara’s] really good. She’s got lots of speed and great hands,” Fransoo said of her new teammate. “And a wicked hard shot,” she adds. Her comment, of course, refers to the bullet Hjalmarsson sent sailing from just inside the blue line and right over Holy Cross goalie’s shoulder that would give Hjalmarsson not only her first Power Play goal, but also the team’s.
A native of Bankeryd, Sweden, Hjalmarsson’s first games as a Friar have earned her the name of Hockey East Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week.
Barone is also making a statement on the ice. In her first game as a Friar, Barone had an impressive two-point game, notching both her first career assist and goal.
However, it is not just the freshmen that are standing out early in the season. Goaltender Maddie Myers ’19 has made her mark in the net, starting all five games this season. She has let in four goals so far, all against Bemidji State University.
“She’s been great back in net,” Fransoo stated. “Maddie has been a rock. I think all of the goalies continuously push each other to fight for that [starting] spot.” Myers is joined by two other goalies, Clare Minnerath ’20 and Sandra Abstreiter ’21.
Of course, it helps that Myers has a “solid D-group” and “strong forward group” aiding her both defensively and offensively.
Team veterans Kate Friesen ’19 and Maureen Murphy ’21 are two players who stand out among the forwards and defense. Friesen, who is the team captain, is coming off a season where she finished second best on the team in terms of +/- ratings (18+). A Hockey East All-Star Honorable Mention, Friesen has played in every game this season as well.
The same goes for Murphy. Beginning her second season with the Friars just after coming back from the 2018 U.S. Women’s National Team Evaluation camp, Murphy already has three goals and three assists.
With a makeup of 12 forwards and seven defensemen, the 19-player roster is really working on earning everything they get this season.
“Our perspective is going into each game thinking that you have to earn it. That is one of our major points that we’re following—earning each game and each shift,” Fransoo explains. “Determination, hard work, and everything you’ve prepared for in that moment: that will be the difference in not only our upcoming games but the games the rest of this season and going into playoffs.”
Aside from the “earning it” mentality that the team is focusing on this year, Fransoo nods to the team’s strengths, which she believes will set them up to go deep into the playoffs.
“I think our team has a lot of speed and I think that’s one of our attributes that really set the team apart. I think when we really use it we really dominate teams,” Fransoo acknowledged.
However, Fransoo points out that with their greatest strength comes a weakness that she admits needs to be worked on as a whole team: passing. With the overall high-intensity speed of the game, the team needs to focus on working on “keeping up” their passing with that speed.
“We have been preparing and working hard to get…wins,” says Fransoo on the team. “We have a lot of drive this year.”
The Lady Friars will look to continue their winning-streak this upcoming weekend at Pennsylvania State University in a two game series on Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20.