Lady 'Jackets play road warriors to open seasonSuperior's first seven games away from Wessman Arena
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
University of Wisconsin-Superior women’s hockey coach Dan Laughlin got a glimpse of his team during Saturday’s exhibition 3-0 win over the Central Plains Capitals (Manitoba), and he likes what he saw.
“We played five forward lines to see what kind of talent we have, and I thought the freshmen played well,” Laughlin said. “We worked really hard and outshot them 4-to-1, so overall it was a good exhibition game for us.”
Not only did the seven incoming freshmen play well, but Dani Schultz, last year’s NCHA Player of the Year, scored a goal; all-American goaltender Shanley Peters had two shutout periods, and all-American defenseman Katie Graham was steady as ever on the blue line.
Battling Peters for playing time is Megan Leikkari, a freshman from Thunder Bay.
“Shanley’s leading the pace and Megan will have her opportunity,” Laughlin said. “At this time we feel Shanley will be the one to keep us going, but we also have confidence in Megan.”
While Schultz, who was also all-conference and an all-American last year, will be relied on for her scoring, Laughlin will be looking for leadership from the team’s five seniors, including captains Chelsey Wierschem and Graham.
Other seniors are forwards Ashley Martin, Ashley Birdsall and Bailey Lane.
“Our senior class will be our leaders,” Laughlin said. “We have a really good crop of seniors.
Martin, a former Superior Spartan, started last year as a senior, but a broken arm ended her season early.
“She’s still feeling the effect of the broken arm, but she’ll keep working through it,” Laughlin said. “We’re excited to have her back, now she just has to stay healthy. When she’s on the ice, she’s effective on both offense and defense. She has plenty of experience and she’s a leader in the locker room.
“Lane, who we moved from defense to a forward is a very skilled hockey player, crafty and will help with one of our forward lines. Ashley is a hard worker and makes her presence felt.”
The Yellowjackets, who return their top nine scorers from last season, will carry seven freshmen this year, up a bit from previous seasons.
“It’s quality depth, not just numbers. They’re all good players,” Laughlin said. “We wanted a little more depth because last year we got caught at the end of the season with only 13 players because of injuries.”
The Yellowjackets open the season by playing their first five games on the road, beginning this weekend at Hamline.
After playing at Gustavus Adolphus on Tuesday, UWS begins NCHA play Nov. 2-3 at UW-Eau Claire. The Yellowjackets’ home opener is Nov. 9 vs. UW-River Falls.
“I like playing on the road right away,” Laughlin said. “We get some of the road games out of the way and it’s a good way for the team to bond. Last year we played our first seven games at home, so I like this year better.”
In another quirk in the schedule, after playing Nov. 16-17 at home against Concordia (Wis.), the Yellowjackets won’t play at home again for two months when they host St. Scholastica on Jan. 19.
This season is also the final year of existence for the NCHA. UWS, along with UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Eau Claire elected to leave the conference for the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“We’ll need to keep working hard, getting better every day, and we’ll have a chance to be near the top,” Laughlin said. “We know this is the last year for the NCHA so we’d like to finish strong competing against this conference for the last time. We’d like to make it one to remember.”
UWS was picked to finish second in the NCHA, behind UW-River Falls.
The coaches’ poll was the tightest it has ever been, with first-place votes scattered among four different teams.
UWRF returns five players who notched 25-plus points last year. The Falcons have been to the NCAA tournament four straight years and are planning nothing less for 2013.
Today’s game at Hamline begins at 7 p.m. and Saturday’s game begins at 2 p.m.
“The No. 1 goal of our team is to work hard,” Laughlin said. “We have to be consistent with that in every practice and every game. If we keep working hard, we have the skill to compete with any one. But if we don’t work hard that skill won’t show up.
“Our main focus is just playing smart hockey and outwork our opponents.”
’JACKET JOTTINGS: The Central Plains Capitals are a midget team out of Manitoba. UWS won the game 3-0. … Jamie Stauber is beginning his fifth season as an assistant coach with UWS. ... Superior's top scorers returning are Schultz, 23-7-30; Kerry Mayhew, 8-21-29; and Graham, 8-17-25.
2012-13 Preseason Coaches’ Poll
UW-River Falls (6) 190
UW-Superior (3) 162
Adrian (1) 150
St. Scholastica (1) 134
Lake Forest 112
St. Norbert 106
UW-Stevens Point 98
UW-Eau Claire 62
* First-place votes in parentheses
2012-13 UWS Hockey Schedule
Fri., Oct. 26 at Hamline, 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 27 at Hamline, 2 p.m.
Tue., Oct. 30 Gustavus Adolphus, 7 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 2 at UW-Eau Claire, 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 3 at UW-Eau Claire, 7 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 9 vs. UW-River Falls, 4 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 10 vs. UW-River Falls, p.m.
Fri., Nov. 16 vs. Concordia-Wis., 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 17 vs. Concordia-Wis., 2 p.m.
Tue., Dec. 4 at St. Catherine, 7 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 7 at Lake Forest, 4 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 8 at Lake Forest, 1 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 11 at Adrian, 6 p.m. (CST)
Sat., Jan. 12 at Adrian, 1 p.m. (CST)
Fri., Jan. 18 at St. Scholastica, 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 19 vs. St. Scholastica, 2 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 25 vs. Marian, 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 26 vs. Marian, 2 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 1 at St. Norbert, 6:30 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 2 at St. Norbert, 2 p.m.
Tue., Feb. 5 vs. Gust. Adolphus, 7 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 8 at Stevens Pt., 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 9 at Stevens Pt., 2:30 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 15 vs. Finlandia, 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 16 vs. Finlandia, 2 p.m.
2011-12 Final Standings
UW-River Falls (23-5-2) 17-2-1-35
UW-Superior (17-8-3) 13-5-2-28
Adrian (16-10-2) 12-6-2-26
Lake Forest (15-10-2) 12-7-1-25
St. Scholastica (13-9-5) 11-6-3-25
UW-Stevens Point (13-12-2) 11-8-1-23
St. Norbert (13-14-0) 11-9-0-22
UW-Eau Claire (9-14-4) 8-9-3-19
Concordia-Wis (7-15-3) 5-13-2-12
Marian (1-21-3) 1-17-2-4
Finlandia (0-22-2) 0-19-1-1
* Number indicates playoff seed