This article first appeared on RyersonRams.ca on October 2, 2013
TORONTO – If you take a quick look at the eligibility line for the Ryerson Rams women’s hockey team, you’ll notice a big difference from just two years ago.
The Rams are featuring a lot more of an experienced lineup, with more veteran leadership and of course, a solid mix of seven new rookie recruits.
“We’re…pretty pleased with the veteran leadership which seems to be growing,” said head coach Lisa Haley in a recent interview from Lethbridge, Alta. “That’s an area we wanted to improve on from last year and we like what we see so far.”
Haley has taken a leave of absence from the women’s hockey program at Ryerson, pursuing an assistant coach position with Hockey Canada’s senior women’s team as they prepare for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Her replacement is Pierre Alain, who comes over from the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey program as their recruitment coordinator last season. Alain brings a wealth of experience to Ryerson, with over 27 years of coaching and teaching experience. Some of Alain’s coaching highlights include working with Hockey Canada’s women’s hockey programs. Earlier this year, as head coach of Canada’s U22 Women’s National Team at the Meco Cup, Alain and his team captured gold.
Alain and coaching staff will keep Nella Brodett (Edmonton, Alta.) as captain for the 2013-14 season. Her assistants will be Melissa Wronzberg (Thornhill, Ont.), Jessica Hartwick (Brampton, Ont.) and newly named assistant captain, Emily Rose Galliani Pecchia (Toronto).
Although the leadership is growing, the team itself is still quite young. Last season saw no players graduate while the team recruited in new players such as Blair Malthaner (Toronto) and Clare Sabine (London, Ont.) to help offensively. Brodett commented in a recent episode of the Ramily Insider that both Malthaner and Sabine were big additions to their team.
For a team that went 6-3 in pre-season play but 2-23-1 last year, there are still things to work on before the start of the season on Oct. 3 against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
One of the areas that Alain has been working on since the start of the season has been his special teams. After a game against the Mount Royal College Cougars in Lethbridge, Alta. where the team was attending the National Female Hockey Challenge, Alain said that cohesion as an entire unit is a key to success.
“This weekend was all about working on cohesion, five on five, and especially specialty teams, and that’s what we did,” said Alain. “We improved every day and we’re a better team today and going to be a better team next week when we play our first game.”
Offensively, the Rams will have returning forwards Galliani Pecchia, Samantha Pui (Toronto) and Wronzberg to help put pucks in the net. Galliani Pecchia notched 11 points, while Pui and Wronzberg each had 10 in 2012-13. The re-addition of Paulena Jakarsezian who played with the Rams in 2011-12 will also help.
On the back end, the defensive corps will see a couple of new faces. Lauren Lovold, a transfer from Wayne State of the NCAA has shown to be a smooth skater that can move the puck well. Stephanie Chiste (Nobleton, Ont.), last year’s team MVP, and Hartwick will provide experience and will be looked upon to contribute in all situations.
It looks like it will be a battle for playing time all season long between three goaltenders this year. Cassandra McNichol (Toronto), who practiced with the team all last season but did not play will compete with Emma Crawley (Herring Cove, N.S.) and rookie Alex Armstrong (Toronto) between the pipes. All three goalies have rotated playing time in the pre-season. McNichol, who last played against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns on Sept. 28 in a 4-1 loss, will get the season opener start against Toronto.
Alain said that with the pre-season wrapping up on Sunday, his team is ready to go.
“Overall our tactical system is good. Not very good but overall we’re pretty good in every part of the ice, in our end, in the neutral zone and in the offensive zone we’re pretty good at all little tactics.”
The team’s home opener is Saturday, Oct. 5 against the York Lions. Game time at the Mattamy Athletic Centre is 2:00 p.m.