Freshmen to be key factor in women’s hockey success

Last years Norwich University’s Women’s Hockey team made an appearance in the NCAA Championship and will attempt to make a return with a staggering 15 freshman on a team, which will “rely on teamwork and general leadership,” according to some of the team’s freshman.
This year’s number of freshman “makes it difficult to get a greater connection with the team,” said 20 year old freshman forward Christine Bouchat, an exercise science major from Montreal, Quebec. “There are usually three to five freshman skaters each year,” Bouchat added, which is three times less the amount of freshman on this year’s NU team than last year’s.

“Everyone comes from different backgrounds, so it’s hard to pull everyone together,” said freshman forward Muranda Toews, a 19-year-old nursing major from Grande Prairie, Alberta. Toews also said the large number “gives the freshman the chance to be exposed, and to play more during (certain) situations.”
“So far it’s actually nice (because) during the first week or so when you have 15 immediate friends,” said freshman forward Erin Joyce, an 18 year nursing major from Manchester, N.H. Such a large number of freshmen will have an impact in the coming years. Bouchat sees this year’s freshman class as beneficial for the future, as she said, “we as a freshman class will gain a lot of experience, but that means this year will require hard work from coaches and players.”
“There definitely is pressure, even though we have 15 freshman we have to make sure that (our) reputation is still high and well deemed by other people,” said Bouchat. There is always pressure to fill a role in a big group “whether there are two freshmen or 20 freshmen,” said Joyce. Joyce went on to say, “Pressure is the same the same with 15 freshmen, age is just a number.”
After losing nine seniors NU women’s hockey will potentially look to utilize all 15 freshman on this year’s team. The team will look to combine the talented freshman class with numerous returning upper- classmen.
When hearing the large number Bouchat was not surprised, saying, “I was expecting it because I knew there were a lot of girls that were going to graduate (from the previous year).” Such a large number ensures nobody is excluded from anything.
With such a young team, leadership will play a factor in the team’s success. “(Upperclassmen) are good in pointing us in the right direction,” said Toews who saw a leadership role as a captain on her midget AAA team, the Grande Prairie Storm form Grande Prairie, Alberta.
“Our leaders lay down the law, which is good especially with 15 freshmen,” said freshman Desirae Khulmann, an 18-year-old nursing major from Swift Current, Saskatchewan who plays defense on the team. Like Toews, Khulmann also saw a leadership role previous to her time at Norwich, as she was an assistant captain for two years at the Warner School Warriors of the JWHL (Junior Women’s Hockey League.)
Having everyone speak up is also important. “Everyone should have a role and be able to speak up,” said Bouchat.
Having such a large number of freshmen will surely strengthen the team dynamic from a number of aspects. “We all live in the same dorm and everyone gets along,” said Joyce. “I’ve loved it so far, it has helped me transition to college,” Joyce added.
The dynamic of the team might change once play starts. “Team dynamic is especially important when you get to know people more and how they like to work,” said Toews.
Getting to know the team will be another important part of the NU women’s hockey team. “We always gather up and make sure no one’s actually alone, we’re always on the go, ready to do something,” said Bouchat. “We learn about each other and I think it is very important in team success.” Connecting, as a team is very important and “the closer the team the better off you are,” said Joyce.
Coming up short in last year’s championship game will surely fuel this year’s team to be successful and with 15 freshmen the challenge will certainly be there.
“We’re very young, we’re going to make mistakes,” Joyce said. “If we learn to have an open mind and to work with each other we will be able to grow a lot within this year and next year and become even stronger.”

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