The William Smith College ice hockey team begins its second season as a varsity program this weekend with a pair of games against the University of Massachusetts Boston.
The Herons completed their inaugural campaign with a 3-21-1 record. William Smith’s first varsity win came against Neumann at the Cooler last season. The Herons pulled out a 3-2 win in overtime after tying the game in the final 90 seconds of regulation. William Smith closed out its first varsity season on a high note with a 4-0 shutout of Cortland.
Head Coach Jaime Totten enters her second year behind the bench for the Herons hoping to build off the momentum of last season.
“We did a great job of establishing the culture of the program last year, especially towards the end of the season when we learned what was needed to win games,” she said. “This season, as a team, we are looking to create a winning culture on the ice. The pace of practices has been great and all the players are showing great pride and commitment in building a winning program. The added depth of nine first-years has been great especially on the power play and penalty kill.”
William Smith’s top-four point scorers from a season ago will look to provide a spark for the Herons on the offensive end. Sophomore Krista Federow recorded a team-high 19 points last year, leading the team with 11 goals and eight assists. Four of Federow’s goals came on the power play and two came short-handed. Sophomores Catherine Linehan and Dori Craig tied for second on the team with 10 points apiece. Linehan notched five goals and five assists while Craig scored three times and added seven helpers. Kiley Fewster came on strong for the Herons at the end of the year. She enters the season on a three-game scoring streak.
Sophomore Morgan Bayreuther wrote her name in the history books last season when she scored the first varsity goal for the William Smith hockey team against UMass Boston. She ended her rookie season with six points (3g, 3a). Rachel McKay also finished last year with six points. Sophomores Sarah Garrettand Lizzy Weingast will add to the Heron offense with one year of experience under their belts. Grace Durham will make the switch to forward after playing defense her first-year. She collected five points in 20 games on the blue line for the Herons a year ago. Six first-years will add depth to the offense.
“Our forwards have shown great progress in practice,” Totten said. “They are creating more open space and showing the ability to move the puck well. The first-years have been like sponges absorbing advice from the returning players.”
An ECAC West All-Rookie team selection, Rebecca Begley will lead the William Smith defensive group. Begley recorded two goals and six assists for eight points on the blue line in 2014-15. Fellow sophomores Hedi Droste and Emily Burton will the William Smith defense. Droste and Burton each finished their rookie seasons with six points.
“We will be looking to add to our offense from the blue line this season,” Totten said. “The three returners are solid on the blue line but will need to stay disciplined in our own end. With only three returning defenders, the three first-years will be heavily relied on to contribute from the opening faceoff.”
All four goalies from last year’s squad return. Maggie Salmon started in goal in each of the final eight games last season. In the final game of the season she earned her first career win, posting the first shutout by a William Smith goalie in a 4-0 victory over Cortland. Salmon finished her rookie season with a 4.28 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. Megan Messuri logged over 500 minutes in the cage for the Herons last year and won two games. She ended the year with a 3.47 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. Emily Spencer got one start against Plattsburgh and will vie for playing time this season. Sophomore Laurel Brown is also back for William Smith and will look to work into the goaltender rotation.
“Salmon will need to start this season the way she finished last year,” Totten added. “She needs to continue working and build off the success she had late in the year. It is important for us to establish who our starter is in October and November.”
The Herons will play four of their first five games at the Cooler this season. After opening up against the Beacons, William Smith will play its first ECAC West game of the season as part of a home and home with Utica. The Pioneers will host the Herons on Nov. 7 before traveling to Geneva on Nov. 8. William Smith will wrap-up 2015 with a pair of conference games against Chatham before stepping out of conference play to begin 2016. The Herons will begin 2016 on Jan 5 against first-year varsity program Morrisville. In the second half of the season, William Smith is scheduled to play two teams ranked in the D3hockey.com preseason poll. On Jan. 15-16, the Herons will travel north to take on two-time defending national champion and preseason No. 1 Plattsburgh. Valentine’s Day weekend, William Smith will face preseason No. 2 Elmira in a home-and-home.