By Jordan Novack Associate Sports Editor Link to Original
For the first time in program history, Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey is ECAC champions. The Bobcats built on their first ECAC regular season title by bringing home their first ever ECAC tournament championship after defeating second-seeded Clarkson 1-0 at the High Point Solutions Arena Sunday afternoon.
Winning the tournament championship adds to the long list of accomplishments by Quinnipiac rookie head coach Cassandra Turner. As well as winning the first ever regular season and tournament titles in program history, the Bobcats’ 30 wins this season are the most in program history and an NCAA record for most wins by a coach in their debut season.
“Our team battled so hard. Clarkson is such a good hockey team. They are big, strong and physical and took a lot of pucks to our net,” Turner said. “We had a great desperation about the way we played, but with a level of composure at the same time. It is what we talked about going into this game, and I couldn’t be happier to share this with this group of players and our staff.”
The first period started out all Clarkson, as the Golden Knights registered the first three attempts on net over the first five minutes of the game. However, Quinnipiac goalie Sydney Rossman continued to showcase why she was named ECAC Goaltender of the year, turning away all of Clarkson’s first period shots and 16 shots overall.
While both team’s were unsuccessful on the powerplay in the first period, the Bobcats’ offense capitalized before its conclusion. Nicole Brown put a rebound past Clarkson goalie Shea Tiley following a Nicole Connery shot. The goal put the Bobcats up 1-0 and was Brown’s eighth goal of the season.
The assist moved Connery into a tie for the team lead with 24 and was her 37th point of the year. The secondary assist also gave captain Cydney Roesler her ninth assist of the season.
During the second, both teams came out with intensity on both ends of the ice. The emotions reached a boiling point in the third, as an interference call on Clarkson’s Erin Ambrose caused T.T. Cianfarano and Emma Woods to need to be restrained by teammates.
Despite the brief flair in temper, Turner described how proud she was that her team was able to maintain composure.
“I talked to them about it, but I almost didn’t need to,” Turner said. “It was amazing to see the body language of our kids, and how they weren’t going to get involved in something like that. They knew that was going to be really important, and they were really disciplined.”
With her 16-save shutout in the championship game, Rossman set the Quinnipiac program record for shutouts in a season with 18.
Following the contest, Rossman was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament, as well as the goalie for the All-Tournament team to accompany her ECAC Goalie of the Season honors.
“You don’t win championships without a great goalie, and she has been the rock for us. Whenever we have needed her, she has been there for us,” Turner said. “She was outstanding today and it wasn’t surprising to me because she really is a mentally strong goaltender, and it really showed today.”
Rossman credited her teammates for helping her reach these levels of success.
“Without them, none of those awards would have been possible,” Rossman said. “So while [the accolades] may be great, we still do have work to do.”
Joining Rossman on the All-Tournament team are Brown, Connery, and Emma Greco.
“[Brown and Connery] have been building every single year that they have been at Quinnipiac,” Turner said. “Just when I think they have hit a plateau, they find something else to get better at. I was so impressed this weekend with the decisions they made with the puck.”
The Bobcats’ win in the finals also marks the first time that the hosting team of the ECAC tournament has won since Cornell accomplished it in 2013.
With the ECAC title secured, the Bobcats will now set their sights on the National Collegiate Women’s Hockey tournament, where their seed and opponent are yet to be announced.
With its regular season concluded – and the ECAC regular season title clinched – Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey looked to carry its four-game unbeaten streak into the playoffs vs. RPI at High Point Solutions Arena. They would do so in thrilling fashion, defeating the Engineers 3-2 in overtime, despite trailing by 2 goals coming into the 3rd period.
The Bobcats’ offense looked ready to play early, outshooting RPI 20-2 in the first period. RPI still had a chance early on, however, due to a Quinnipiac tripping penalty.
However, Quinnipiac showed why it’s the No. 3 penalty killing team in the country this season, allowing RPI to only get off one shot during the two-minute stretch without scoring.
In the second period, the Bobcats increased their shots advantage to 36-5. However, the Engineers capitalized on their chance, as Jaimie Gribsby finished a one-on-one against Rossman with two minutes left in the period. Grigsby’s goal was the first allowed by the Bobcats in 164 consecutive minutes.
RPI struck one more time in the period, as a Josefine Hansen slapshot found its way over Rossman’s glove shoulder and into the back of the net with 30 seconds remaining in the second. It was the first time the Bobcats trailed by two goals since their loss to Colgate on Feb. 6.
“We’re a team that never gives up. We learned from [Colgate], where we were down two goals in a similar situation,” Quinnipiac senior forward Nicole Connery said. “Everyone was fired up, and people were staying positive. We learned from that how to stay in the right position mentally, and this time we used that to take it to them.”
The Bobcats continued to create chances from the start of the third period. Emma Woods struck first for Quinnipiac, recording her 10th goal of the season from a scrum that cut the Engineers lead down to 2-1. T.T. Cianfarano assisted the Woods goal, giving her a team-leading 49th point for the season (27 goals, 22 assists).
Quinnipiac then tied the game five seconds after RPI returned even strength 7:39 into the third period as Connery recorded her 13th goal of the season, and her seventh point (4g, 3a) in her last three games. Regulation ended with the game level at two each.
Quinnipiac’s breakthrough came two minutes into the extra period. Following a drive on net by Cianfarano, Woods, the puck deflected the rebound into the net in controversial manner, as it initially appeared to hit off her skate. Following a lengthy review and discussion by the referees, the goal was upheld.
“No doubt. No doubt,” Woods said. “I knew there was that [kicking] motion, and that it was going to be reviewed, but I was in stride and it happened so quickly that it wasn’t a force but I thought it was going to stand. Even if I was a little scared at first.”
The goal was Woods’ second of the night, as well as the game winner. The assist from Connery gave her the 100th point of her career.
“Connery every shift, with her unique skill level, always works hard,” Quinnipiac head coach Cassandra Turner said. “She and I had a conversation a couple years ago about ‘what would [Connery] want someone to say about you at the end of the game if they had never seen you play hockey before?’ and she has really made the things she wanted to be proud of a reality.”
Today’s win was the Bobcats’ 27th of the season which is a program record for wins in a season. Turner also tied the record for most wins by a rookie coach in NCAA history.
“I am really proud of this team. At the beginning of the year I knew this was possible for this group and that we could be sitting in this exact position we are now,” Turner said. “They’ve made it a reality and it is a testament to how hard they work, and how much they are willing to put into it.”
Following today’s victory, the Bobcats will look for a similar result when they face off against RPI again Saturday at 2 p.m at High Point Solutions Arena, with the chance to advance in the ECAC tournament on the line.
By Jordan Novack Associate Sports Editor Link to Original
Nothing is more captivating to the Quinnipiac student body than the men’s ice hockey team.
Undefeated in its last 20 outings this season, the women’s team has yet to win fewer than 20 games in a season this decade. With its amazing performance this season (21-1-4), as well as in seasons’ past, the women’s ice hockey team is Quinnipiac’s best sports team, and deserving of far more fan support and general attention than it currently receives.
In 2015-16, the women’s ice hockey team finds itself with a top-five ranking for the second-straight year. The Bobcats are playing as well, if not better, than their male counterparts.
Led by Hobey Baker hopeful Michael Garteig, the male Bobcats are allowing a mere 1.6 goals-per-game this season, the fewest in the nation. Meanwhile the women, led by junior goaltender Sydney Rossman, are allowing an even more paltry 0.87 goals-per-game.
While Garteig has a storied career for the Bobcats and is deserving of all the praise he has earned throughout this season, Rossman has outplayed him. Rossman is 21-1-4 this season, with 11 shutouts and is stopping 95 percent of the shots she faces. Garteig on the other hand is 20-1-5 this year, with six shutouts and is stopping 93.8 percent of shots he faces.
Yet, despite the women’s emphasis on defense, they have proven to be just as lethal offensively as the men’s team. Through their first 27 games, the women are averaging 3.2 goals-per-game on 10 percent shooting. The men’s ice hockey team registered slightly more goals, 3.8 per-game on average, on just three more shots per game.
While the women have played on the same level as the men as a unit, they have individuals playing as well as any player in the country, regardless of gender.
In her first 25 games of the season, sophomore T.T. Cianfarano is leading the way for the Bobcats with 39 points (22 goals, 17 assists), while converting a ridiculous 20.4 percent of her shots.
For comparison, Sam Anas, the leading scorer for the men’s ice hockey team, has 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) and is converting 16.8 percent of his chances. While Tim Clifton may possess the highest shooting percentage in Quinnipiac hockey this season (23.6 percent), he is doing so with half as many shots and 12 fewer points than Cianfarano.
Helping Cianfarano carry the load offensively for the Bobcats is the most complete athlete in the entire freshman class, regardless of sport. A product of the same high school that brought us Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews, Melissa Samoskevich is playing like a veteran despite only having 27 collegiate games under her belt. In those games, she has seven game-winning goals, including both game-winners over rival Harvard.
While her 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) are impressive, they don’t tell the full story of her impact. Quinnipiac women’s ice head coach Cassandra Turner has gone to Samoskevich as a defender on several occasions this season as well, and has utilized her on three different forward lines.
The team is flanked by several more talented players. Junior Emma Woods leads both teams with 19 assists. Senior captain Cydney Roesler has been a lock-down defender. Nicole Connery, Nicole Kosta, and Meghan Turner have also been consistent contributors on boths ends of the ice. The women are a deep, threatening team on all four forward lines, as well as all of their defensive lines.
With only six games, four of which are at home, remaining in the regular season, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon. This year’s women’s ice hockey team is something special and everyone should start to take notice of them before it is too late.
By Jordan Novack, Associate Sports Editor Link to Original
Few positions are more important to a hockey team than the goaltender. The goalie is captain of the defense and the player that has the most direct outcome on the final score. Having a good goalie is essential for any team that wishes to be successful. And in order to be a good goalie, you need to possess a high I.Q.
For Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey goalie Sydney Rossman, her intelligence has helped her find success both between the posts and in the classroom.
Rossman, a junior marketing major from Minnesota, graduated high school as part of the national honor society and has been named to the All-ECAC Academic Team in both her freshman and sophomore seasons at the collegiate level.
Rossman says while hockey is her passion, it is her academics that drive her, and that a desire for a good education is what would eventually bring her to Quinnipiac.
“Academics is huge. We are all students before we are athletes,” Rossman said. “I originally heard about Quinnipiac because of hockey, but it was the academic reputation that won me over.
Despite the chances of playing professionally now being an option following the inaugural season of the National Women’s Hockey League, Rossman wants to pursue a job based on her degree following graduation.
“After college, there is the opportunity to play in the [National Women’s Hockey League] now for women and the chance to go overseas, but ultimately my goal is to graduate with a good degree and have a good job.”
Quinnipiac head coach Cassandra Turner feels that Rossman’s intelligence has been a key for the goaltender’s transition to the college game.
“She, in the classroom, has high personal expectations for herself, and I strongly believe when you carry those high expectations in the classroom, they will carry over onto the ice,” Turner said. “I think her ability to think and learn in the classroom is a consistent skill she has on the ice as well. She knows how to help herself get better, which is tremendous.”
While Rossman has always been an impressive student, her impressive goaltending skills are what drew the attention of the Bobcats’ recruiting staff. Over her four seasons playing for Minnetonka High School, Rossman allowed an average of 1.13 goals per game, and went 55-10-2 on the way to winning three AA state championships for the Skippers. Additionally, Rossman was named the top goalie in the state of Minnesota during her senior year.
Despite not starting immediately, Rossman was able to demonstrate her on-ice IQ and her desire to improve during her first two seasons on campus as she sat behind former goaltender Chelsea Laden, who has graduated and now plays for the Connecticut Whale of the NWHL.
Due to Laden’s presence, Rossman was limited to 12 appearances in two seasons, with only six of those coming as starts. In those games, Rossman was still impressive, as she went 4-0-1 with a 93.3 percent save percentage and allowed an average of 1.21 goals per game.
While the number of appearances was a small sample size, they were all games of large importance. Rossman shut out then No. 8 ranked Clarkson on Valentine’s Day, and started the program’s first national tournament game against Harvard on March 14th. While the team would go on to lose to Harvard, Rossman describes the game as a chance to grow as a team.
“I wish we got the result that we wanted to, but it was a learning experience,” Rossman said. “It helped me and my teammates learn what it takes to not only compete, but win at that level, so hopefully we will get there again this year and know what we will need to do.”
Rossman credits her time playing behind Laden during her first two seasons as preparing her for taking over as the Bobcats’ starter.
“Playing behind Chelsea I really learned a lot because we really pushed each other, so even though I wasn’t starting in games, I was getting that much better every day in practice,” Rossman said. “We both knew that whoever was playing, the main thing we wanted was for our team to be successful, so I would always cheer her on during her starts, and she would do the same during mine.”
Despite playing well in her limited game time the last two seasons, many wondered how Rossman would handle the transition to top choice goalie. Thus far, as the season has progressed Rossman has begun to make a name for herself around the country.
In her 17 starts this season, Rossman has gone 13-1-3, allowing 1.10 goals per game, the third fewest in the nation, as well as stopping .939 percent of shots she faces. Additionally, Rossman has five shutouts this season, including a program-record streak of 296:42 minutes without allowing a goal.
Rossman’s stellar play has earned her national praise. She was named the ECAC goalie of the month as well as the Quinnipiac woman’s athlete of the month for the month of November. Rossman has also been named the ECAC goalie of the week three times this season. This smooth transition of Rossman’s has been a major key to the Bobcats being ranked 4th nationally.
For Laden, there never a doubt that Rossman would be a successful starter for the Bobcats.
“[Rossman] was ready to play hockey from early in her hockey career, and she is still one of the best goaltenders I have ever seen or played with,” Laden said. “One of the most important traits she has is her work ethic. She works her butt off every day at the rink, and it pushed me to become a better goalie.”
Similar to Laden, Turner knew that with Rossman’s attitude and work ethic it was a matter of time until Rossman was one of the top starters in the ECAC. For this season, Turner and Rossman have worked on molding the junior into what the team defines as a “championship goaltender.”
“We talk about making key saves, like right after we score, or right after we get scored on. On the penalty kill, they are your best penalty killer,” Turner said. “A championship goalie is someone who can change the momentum, or save the team when they are needed and she has done that this year. I think about many big games and moments this year, and she has been there for us.”
One area in which Rossman has consistently showed up for the Bobcats this season is in overtime. In their 17 games, the Bobcats have had five games reach overtime. After tying in their first four overtime games, Rossman stopped 21 of 22 total shots and help the Bobcats win their first OT game 2-1 over rival Harvard on Dec. 5th. Rossman described what she does to prepare herself when she knows overtime is looming.
“Overtime is interesting because anything can happen in those five minutes, so I go into overtime like we have nothing to lose,” Rossman explained. “By doing that, it helps me stay focused on making every key save, and on at least helping my team get a tie. If they can score that is great, but as long as I don’t let one in I can help my team leave with one point in the standings.”
While Rossman is taking strides in the right direction, both she and Turner feel the junior has room to improve before reaching championship goaltender status.
“We need her save percentage to continue to improve, and our team defense to improve, but she is hungry to accomplish it,” Turner said. “Her hunger and desire to get better is contagious, and can prove to be something that pushes our entire team to get better.”
Another area of difficulty for Rossman is maintaining full concentration during a game, despite not always facing many shots. With the Bobcats currently allowing 18.5 shots per game, Rossman will sometimes go long stretches of the game without being called into action.
To help become accustomed to this, Rossman reached out to men’s ice hockey goalie Michael Garteig for advice.
“I talked to [Garteig] about how to stay focused in games when there aren’t as many shots, because he knows how hard it can be,” Rossman said. “I got a system of breaking the game down into five minute increments from him, as well as counting every shot that goes in on me, including the ones during practice.”
Should Rossman hope to make that last step to the championship goaltender status, she would be wise to heed the advice Garteig, Laden, and Turner have passed down to her.
Yet, with the desire to improve and win that Rossman has showed in the past, as well as the flashes of greatness she has displayed this season, Quinnipiac is optimistic that its junior goaltender can help the program achieve its ultimate goal of winning a National Championship.
By Jordan Novack, Associate Sports Editor Link to Original
Few games carry more weight for the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team coming into this season than contests against the Harvard Crimson. While the teams had matched up four separate times last year, including in both the ECAC and National tournaments, the Bobcats came up empty handed every time. In fact, the last time Quinnipiac had defeated Harvard was all the way back on November 12th, 2010.
This time out, Quinnipiac would finally flip the script.
In a tightly contested game that needed overtime to determine a winner, Quinnipiac downed Harvard 2-1 at High Point Solutions Arena on Saturday afternoon.
“There is no question that from the beginning of the season, Harvard was a game we circled on the calendar, especially given that they were the team that ended our season last year,” Quinnipiac head coach Cassandra Turner said. “It was really neat to see how genuinely excited our seniors were following that win. Kristen Tamberg was in tears following that win, she was so happy, as it was their first victory over Harvard.”
Coming into the game, the Bobcats were dealing with fatigue from the night before – when they defeated Dartmouth 7-1.
On the way to the victory, Quinnipiac accumulated many injuries to its defensive core, forcing the coaching staff to play standout freshman Melissa Samoskevich as the team’s 7th defender. While Samoskevich played the first two periods of the game as a defender, she would revert to forward for the third period and overtime on Saturday.
Eventually, she netted the game-winning goal.
“I haven’t played as a defender in three years, so it took me a little while to get used to it,” Samoskevich said. “I’ve done it before though, and it actually gives me a bit of an adrenaline rush.”
Quinnipiac outshot Harvard 10-2 in the first period.
Emma Woods scored first, dangling the puck past two Crimson defenders giving the Bobcats the 1-0 lead.
Both teams threatened in period No. 2, but the Bobcats 1-0 lead remained intact heading into the final frame.
Harvard almost tied the game 7:30 into the third period, but a spectacular stretching save from Rossman kept the game scoreless.
Harvard’s offense continued to press though, and it paid off as Karly Heffernan put a rebound shot past Rossman to even the game at 1-1.
In overtime, both teams would came out firing and looked to seal a victory.
After T.T Cianfarano had a shot on net blocked by the Harvard goaltender, Samoskevich corralled the rebound and placed it in the back of the net for the victory.
With today’s victory, the Bobcats have gone undefeated over their last 10 games. Quinnipiac improved its record to 13-1-3 on the season and 7-1-2 in conference play. Quinnipiac will now turn its attention to the University of New Hampshire, as the Bobcats are set to host the Wildcats at High Point Solutions Arena on Dec. 11th.
By Jordan Novack, Associate Sports Editor Link to Original
The title drought in Hamden is finally over. For the first time in the school’s 86-year history, and the five years of the program, the Bobcats h ave a national champion, as the women’s rugby team edged Army in the National Collegiate Women’s Varsity Rugby Association (NCWVRA) championship on Sunday by a final score of 24-19.
The Bobcats came into the title game with a wave of momentum from a five-game winning streak. During that stretch, Quinnipiac played consecutive games against West Chester. The team won 100-10 the first outing and 84-7 the second (the last game of the regular season and first game of the postseason).
Head coach Becky Carlson described how she and her coaching staff kept their players from becoming complacent during the playoffs after such large margins of victory.
“I told them they were the most unfortunate team in the tourney to not draw the most competitive games in the opening rounds, because every other team was using close games to learn from,” Carlson said. “Since we had those first games that only allowed us to stretch our offensive legs, I told them we were working on nothing but defense the next three weeks because that was what would earn us the championship.”
Quinnipiac and Army split the season series 1-1 heading into this weekend’s national title game. Army handed the Bobcats their first loss of the season on Sept. 12, and the Bobcats’ only road loss, by the final of 29-24. The Bobcats avenged that loss, topping the Black Knights 20-12 at home on Halloween.
Quinnipiac was the first team to get on the scoreboard on Sunday, taking a 5-0 lead thanks to a Emily Roskopf try. Unfortunately, Army responded a mere three minutes later with a try of its own. With the Black Knights’ successful conversation,, Quinnipiac found itself behind 7-5.
The two sides each ended up scoring one more try during the opening 40 minutes, Quinnipiacand the trailed 14-12 heading into intermission. Carlson described what she discussed with her players during the break.
“There was nothing to tell them, except to keep playing the way they were. It was everything we loved in competitive rugby with plenty of offense and defense,” Carlon said. “The only message we wanted to send them was to tighten up their play, and to have more precision with the ball because of the rainy conditions.”
With just 40 minutes left in their season, Quinnipiac looked to settle down and play its way back into the game. The Bobcats accomplished this goal, as a Raechel Stimson try Quinnipiac put Quinnipiac up 19-14 lead within the first five minutes of the second period of play.
While Army eventually tied the game at 19 all, the Bobcats halted the Black Knights’ momentum in the final five minutes of play. Roskopf’s second try was the game-winner.
Carlson described how important Roskopf’s performance in the game, both offensively and defensively, was to the final outcome.
“[Roskopf’s] absolutely saved two tries,” Carlson said. “She stormed across the field after two of our players missed a tackle, and all but stripped the ball from the opposing player. If she doesn’t make that tackle, and another similar one in our own zone 10 minutes prior, we aren’t national champions.”
Another player who was key for the Bobcats was sophomore Mason Johnson. Johnson, who played 10 minutes of the championship game with a partially torn MCL, led the team with two assists and was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
“I was both surprised and honored to be named MVP,” Johnson said. “I’m shocked they could even pick out an MVP, because of the great play of us as a team. This championship was a complete team effort.”
The national championship victory brings a conclusion to what has been a dominant season for the Bobcats. They finish the year with an 11-2 record, including a 6-1 mark against NCWVRA opponents, and a six-game unbeaten streak.
By Jordan Novack, Associate Sports Editor Link to Original
Despite holding a lead that would stand for most of the game, No. 8 Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey tied No. 10 Princeton 1-1 at the High Power Solutions Arena Friday evening.
With the score tied 0-0 during the first period, the Bobcats were looking for the play that would put them in control versus Princeton.
That play would come in the form of a Meghan Turner goal. Turner’s fourth goal of the season came after she slotted the puck past Tiger’s goaltender Kimberley Newell for the 1-0 lead.
With the goal, Turner has now scored in consecutive games.
“I think that getting in front of the net, screening, and being gritty are some of my strengths,” Turner said. “In the past I think I may have been a little more complacent, but now I’m trying harder to bear down and put them into the net”
The Tigers would not go down without a fight, though, as the Tiger’s Karlie Lund would slot her own shot past Sydney Rossman and bring the score even with 7:20 remaining in the third period.
The score remained tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation, becoming the second of the Bobcats last three games to reach overtime.
In overtime, the momentum swung in Princeton’s favor early, but Rossman made a few big saves for the Bobcats during the extra period.
The Bobcats would have three shots of their own in overtime, but none found the back of the net and the game ended in a draw.
After the game, captain Cydney Roesler discussed the team’s need to improve holding onto a lead.
“It was tough tonight because we had the lead and we lost it in the third,” Roesler said. “We have to be better at keeping a lead and being able to hold them off. We know it is something we need to improve on, and it is something we will definitely be working on.”
Even though the game ended in a tie, the Bobcats outshot the Tigers 30-21 in the contest.
Bobcats head coach Cassandra Turner spoke of the team’s struggles to finish chances.
“We need to score,” Turner said. “We had some good scoring chances, but we need to bury those. We need to take those chances more seriously, and find a way to put them in the net.”
“We have that ability on this team, I think each individual just need to feel a little bit better to be able to put those shots into the goal.”
Another area in which the Bobcats struggled was on the power play. Quinnipiac was unsuccessful on all four of their chances and only mustered nine shots.
“I thought there were some good things with our power play, but it takes time to build chemistry up when you make a few changes,” Turner said. “We still really like the changes that we’ve made, and I think that watching the video and getting them more comfortable playing with one another will help fix the issues.”
With that tie, the Bobcats were now 6-1-3 on the season, and 2-1-2 in ECAC conference play. These two teams met again Saturday night, as the series shifted to New Jersey. The Bobcats would correct their mistakes, and beat the Tigers 4-2, behind a pair of goals from Roesler.
The win and draw would not affect the Bobcats place in the polls, as they remained in the 8th spot in the USCHO.com polls that were released this week.
By Jordan Novack, Associate Sports Editor Link to Original
Last season, Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey had its most successful season in program history. After going 26-9-3, and winning the ECAC Hockey regular season title, the Bobcats would go on to lose to Harvard in the national tournament. Despite the success, Quinnipiac would undergo a coaching change on Apr. 9, as officials from the school approached former coach Rick Seeley with several allegations, including that he had yelled at a student on the hockey team and grabbed her by her helmet chin strap.
Following the dismissal of Seeley, Cassandra Turner would be named the interim head coach, and has since been named full-time head coach.
Instead of having the change in leadership be a transitional period for the team, the Turner era has gotten off to a smooth start as the Bobcats are currently 4-0-1 on the season. For Turner, success is like second nature, as she has achieved it since her playing career at Brown.
During her four-year stint with the Bears, Turner won two Ivy League and two ECAC championships, as well as appearing in two NCAA Tournament National Championship games. Turner credits her time playing at Brown under head coach Margaret Murphy as what laid the foundation for her coaching style.
“[Murphy] really taught me how to get the most out of myself and find ways to reach further, and really challenge myself to not only be the best player I can, but to be the best person I can be,” Turner said. “It is that fundamental identity that she instilled into that program that there is always more, that has most helped shape who I am as a coach.”
Turner also credits Murphy for guiding her and fellow teammate, and current Princeton assistant, Cara Morey toward becoming coaches.
“[Murphy] used to make jokes during my time there all the time calling [Morey] and I coaches in training, and would include us in on conversations that you would usually not include your players in, like ‘How would you defend this faceoff?’ or ‘What would you do in this situation?’” Turner explained. “I really enjoyed thinking about the game that way, so my coaches–even when I was a player–were asking me to take on added responsibilities.”
Turner said the extra responsibilities would finally help her realize she wanted to be a coach. The main experience Turner credits is when the Brown coaching staff entrusted her to teach a teammate, who had played for the US National team as a forward, how to become a defender.
While the emergence of Turner may have surprised a few people, Quinnipiac Director of women’s ice hockey operations Paul Nemetz-Carlson has been one of Turner’s biggest advocates. A member of the Quinnipiac coaching staff for 13 years over two tenures, Nemetz-Carlson would give Turner her first coaching job, as a graduate assistant, at Division III Elmira College while Nemetz-Carlson was the head coach.
While at Elmira, Turner would again be a part of success, as the Soaring Eagles would reach a national semi-final, as well as win a Division III national championship. Nemetz-Carlson feels that Turner’s coaching instincts have been present since this inaugural coaching job,
“Her personality, her ability to connect to people, be it motivate or push them, or even her pedigree as a player, both during her career for Brown and with the Canada international team, all spoke in great volume about her,” Nemetz-Carlson said. “Not all great players become great coaches though, but everyone who spoke to Cass could tell you how different she was, and how differently she looked at the game than most people.”
Turner’s skill as a coach, especially on the defensive end, has been apparent throughout her tenure with Quinnipiac. This was especially prevalent last season, as a Turner-led defense would allow a mere 45 total goals throughout the season, the fewest in all of Division I hockey.
“Not only did we have the fewest goals in the nation, we allowed 100 fewer shots than any other team in the country,” Turner said. “We really stress holding onto possession, how we attack, and working on getting the puck back quickly.”
Turner attributes the team’s stringent defense to the attention to detail her players possess, as well as the culture of the locker room.
“It isn’t just me either, we will be between periods and I will hear girls on our team saying ‘come on everyone, zero shots allowed for the period,’ and whenever you have players that will take that on to themselves, you know you are in a good place with a winning culture.”
One way in which Turner instills this attention to detail in her players is by preaching the importance of hustle stats. Turner discussed the importance the team places on winning each period as its own game, measuring shots allowed vs shots taken, and keeping the team’s penalty minutes for the game under six total minutes.
“It was really cool to average six minutes or fewer of penalties per game a couple of seasons ago. It was an NCAA record previously, then we squashed it, when we averaged 4.3 penalty minutes per game over all of last season,” Turner said. “That number seems unattainable now, but if we keep our penalty minutes under six, and maintain our penalty kill, which is over 90 percent, we should find similar defensive success this season.”
A key area in which Turner has been able to aid the team in reaching these unheralded levels of success, is in her skills as a recruiter. Since taking over as the program’s recruiting director, Turner has been directly involved with the recruitment of 13 players who have gone on to win All-ECAC honors, such as captain Cydney Roesler.
While playing under Turner for Hockey Canada, Roesler was given a two week crash course in Turner as both a person and a coach over the two week tournament. Roesler said Turner’s enthusiasm to not only win, but to make everyone around her better was the major driving force that led Roesler to Hamden.
While working against Turner at Yale and then with Turner at QU, Nemetz-Carlson has seen Turner both as an ally and as an enemy when it comes to recruiting. Carlson described how Turner has a way of showing recruits how much she cares about them.
“She has a tremendous emotional intelligence that really helps her connect with people, and understand their needs,” Nemetz-Carlson said. “Her ability to articulate a vision for what we are trying to do has been really successful. With that competitive nature, it has helped us attract top tier players who are a good fit for the program both on and off the ice.”
Nemetz-Carlson went on to explain that the main quality that everyone in the program shares, is a dedicated vision of working hard, and winning the national championship that has thus far alluded them.
Roesler also described the perception her and her teammates have of Turner, both as a coach and as a mentor.
“Everyone knows that Cass understands so much about hockey, that we appreciate every piece of advice she gives us. It helps because every day we know as players we are going to get better under her,” Roesler said. “Off the ice, she is someone we can open up to and get along with. She is very big on having a very good relationship both on and off the ice, and I think that is really going to help us with chemistry both on and off the ice.”
So far through the team’s first five games, you could hardly tell there was a coaching change this offseason. Turner talked about what has made her transition so seamless and “fun,” but also pointed out where she wants improve.
“I am truly honored to have this position, and humbled to be a part of a program like this,” Turner said. “The support we have in terms of not only financial backing but in people makes the transition so easy and fun, and has put me in a place to be successful immediately.”
As for the rest of the season, Turner’s goal for the team is for them to figure out how to play their best hockey each day. Along the way to achieving this goal, Turner believes the team’s true potential will reveal itself, although she admits there are lofty goals in their crosshairs.
“There is no question our kids want to win a championship, and that is their goal,” Turner said. “As we progress, the first thing they want is an ECAC regular season championship, and from there we will see where it goes.”
By Jordan Novack, Associate Sports Editor Link to Original
There are few more decorated freshman in college hockey this season than Melissa Samoskevich.
A 5-foot-4 winger with a fierce left-handed shot, Samoskevich possesses insane amounts of natural talent. From her burning speed, her ability to use her body to protect the puck, and a viciously quick release, the Connecticut native has all of the natural abilities to be an offensive force at the collegiate level.
In her young career, Samoskevich has shown a penchant for using these skills. An alumna of Minnesota’s Shattuck St. Mary’s, whose hockey program has standout alumni including Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Toews, Samoskevich scored 94 points (56 goals, 38 assists) in her 50 career games. That total was a full 40 points more than any of her other teammates. While in Minnesota, she served as captain of a Sabre’s team who boasted 16 fellow Division one hockey commits.
Another place that Samoskevich has shined is when she played for the United States national team. Throughout her tenure playing for the U.S., Samoskevich has shown great versatility, thriving as both a defender and as a forward in various competitions. As part of the 2015 U.S. under-18 World Championship team in Buffalo, Samoskevich’s tournament-high six goals and two assists would help lead the team to a gold medal. Following the tournament, she was named to the Media All-Star team.
Samoskevich would continue her international duty this past summer. She was named an alternate for the national team’s camp, and eventually would play for the u22 team in the August festival. Samoskevich and Quinnipiac head coach Cassandra Turner both credit this summer of international hockey for helping her have an easier transition to the speed and style of college hockey.
“She is processing things very well, and I think it is a product of her having experiences playing at elite levels,” Turner said. “The biggest difference I think was this summer, for her to have had the opportunity to go to the under 22 national team camp, and compete with girls who have been playing in college already, and to be the only player who hasn’t played in college yet, to be on that team, she had to raise her standard of excellence, and to raise her play.”
Following such a decorated high school and international career, many top tier universities took notice of Samoskevich. Storied programs such as Minnesota, Boston College and Wisconsin offered her scholarships. Yet, she was able to tell immediately that the best school for her was the one closest to home.
“It would have been great to play for a big name school, but for me Quinnipiac is a big name,” Samoskevich said. “Just stepping on campus it instantly felt like home, and the advice I was given was that when you find the right school you will get ‘that’ feeling so I knew this was the place for me. So while I liked the other schools, I knew this was the right fit.”
Despite already leaning toward coming closer to the east for college, following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Sandy Hook native knew she wanted to play closer to home and her family.
“I knew I wanted to come closer to home, and that I wanted to play on the east coast. I have a brother and sister, who are twins, that had aged out [of the school] that year, and it was really hard for me, because I never got to see them when I was in high school.” Samoskevich detailed.
“It is awesome to get to see them now, because I get to go to see them whenever, and I can go to all of their games. So the Sandy Hook thing really affected us, but in a way that it really brought us all together, and coming home has really helped.”
On the ice, Samoskevich has had a very smooth transition through her first few games. Playing on the second line alongside Emma Woods and former u18 teammate T.T Cianfarano, the trio has been the Bobcats most lethal offensive weapons to start the season.
In the first four games, their line accounted for eight of 13 goals scored. Samoskevich has a goal and five assists on the season.
Samoskevich credits the similar styles of her, Woods and Cianfarano as the key to their early chemistry.
“I think we are all the same player, which has really helped us all out. Off the ice, we all click. I sit next to Woods in the locker room, which is cool because she is our assistant captain and I really look up to her, ” Samoskevich explained. “On the ice, no matter what, there is no screwing around. Whenever we are doing drills we talk about the minor details, and what we need to focus on. We are all creative players who know how to play off each other, and so far it has been awesome.”
As for Cianfarano, she feels the chemistry between the girls is so natural it occurred nearly instantly.
“I actually played with [Samoskevich] with the U.S. u18s, and even though I didn’t play on a line with her, I knew a lot about her, she’s a great girl. When I found out she was coming to Quinnipiac, I was really excited for her to come here, and [Coach Turner] thought we would play well together,” Cianfarano said. “I enjoy playing with her; the chemistry is all natural. You don’t even have to talk, the puck is just always where it needs to be.”
A sophomore who came into Quinnipiac with tons of accolades in her own right, Cianfarano knows plenty about living up to hype. She was the Bobcats leading scorer as a freshman. Now, Cianfarano has saught after taking her new teammate under her wing to ensure Samoskevich has a debut campaign as successful as her’s was last year.
“She came in for summer school, and again [Coach Turner] said we would be a good fit together, so I kinda threw her underneath my wing, and I learned a lot from her, and she learned a lot from me,” Cianfarano said. “She asks a lot of questions which is good. I think ever since she has just been building and learning off it, and she is a better player than she is a year ago, a week ago, even yesterday.”
For Coach Turner, Samoskevich’s seamless transition both on and off of the ice has not come as a surprise.
“Melissa is the type of person that fits into a group immediately. She is fun, personable and really looks after those around her. She didn’t miss a beat, and was instantly a part of this team,” Turner explained. “Clearly she is a really talented hockey player, but this is why we were so excited to have her be part of the team. She has great character and really puts the team first.”
Samoskevich, who originally committed to Quinnipiac while Rick Seeley was still the coach, loves the style of Turner, the new coach. Samoskevich credits the atmosphere that Turner and the coaching staff create, as making her time in Hamden so pleasureable thus far.
“Coach Turner is awesome. I get along with all of my teammates, but I knew I would going in because of the type of person [Coach Turner] looks for. One of the main characteristics they look for is how they will fit in with our community.” Samoskevich said. “I love playing for Coach Turner.”
Despite this being her freshman season, Woods feels that Samoskevich has fit right into the team, and plays beyond her age.
“She doesn’t even seem like she’s a freshman,” Woods said. “She’s really comfortable around the other girls, and is already being asked to play a large roll, and leads by example. She’s a great leader for the other freshman, and even some of the older girls. She is a really great hockey player.”
Despite only being on a line together for the last two weeks, Woods has also noticed playing alongside Samoskevich brings out the best in her game.
“Just knowing her skill level, it makes me want to play a bigger role with her,” Woods explained, “It makes me work harder, because I know what level she is at, and it makes me want to work to get there with her.”
As for the rest of the season, Turner has conservative expectations for her young forward, despite the hot start.
“She is in a good position right now,” Turner said. “Whenever she scores and contributes it is a bonus, we are not putting pressure to be that kid right now. Between players like T.T Cianfarano, Emma Woods, Nicole Connery, and Nicole Kosta, we have people who can put the puck in the net.”
Turner believes that Samoskevich’s main goal for the season should be acclimating to the style of the college game.
“That time will come when there will be an expectation for score, but for now our expectation is for her to play college hockey hockey at our level and our pace, as well as to play from the defensive side of the game to our expectations.”
While the season might still be early, Melissa Samoskevich is well on her way to exceeding those expectations, and becoming a force for Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey.