UWS women’s hockey team opens 2013-14 season tonightWith the creation of a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s hockey league, the University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets need to win, and win right away.
There’s a sense of urgency around Wessman Arena this fall.
With the creation of a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s hockey league, the University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets need to win, and win right away.
UWS, along with UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stevens Point and UW-River Falls, left the NCHA following last season and because there are only four teams in the new WIAC, there are not enough teams for an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
The only way a team from the WIAC can make the NCAA tournament is to get one of the three at-large bids.
“It’s a different landscape now,” UWS coach Dan Laughlin said. “Because our conference lost the AQ (automatic qualifier), it’s all based on your overall record to get into the national tournament. With only three spots available, the bottom line is you have to win 19-20 games to even get looked at.
“Our goal is to win them all and we have to be ready from game one. It’s no longer ‘play your best hockey at the end,’ we have to be playing our best hockey right away and continue to get better.”
The Yellowjackets’ first chance to get into the win column is this weekend when they host the Hamline Pipers. Game times are 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Saturday.
“Every game is important,” Laughlin said. “There’s no hiccups, that’s why we have to prepare and be mentally ready to play every single game.”
The four teams in the WIAC will play each other four times this year, and following a 25-game schedule, will play in the WIAC tournament. The semifinals will be a best-of-three series with a mini-game. The winners will play one game for the WIAC playoff championship the following weekend at the home of the higher seed.
Superior’s schedule includes 10 home games and 15 on the road, including games Nov. 8-9 at Gustavus Adolphus, which is ranked No. 4 in the nation. River Falls is also ranked No. 6 and UWS is No. 10.
“From top to bottom — though there are only four of us — there’s no tougher league in the nation,” Laughlin said. “Not only do we have a very tough schedule, but we’re going to have to win on the road. It’s always tough to win on the road, but it also brings your team together, too.”
Laughlin’s team includes just 20 players, including three goaltenders.
“The numbers are a little small this year,” Laughlin said. “We lost a couple recruits to Division I teams so we’re left with what we have, but what we do have is outstanding.
“With this small of a team, everyone’s involved, everyone has roles. Nobody is just sitting and watching, everybody’s playing. That keeps the team more on its toes.”
Laughlin’s team includes the best forward depth he’s ever had, a strong defensive group and three quality goaltenders, including senior Shanley Peters, a four-year starter and all-American.
“We’re going to be relying on Shanley a lot this season, she’s going to be the kickstand for us,” Laughlin said.
Other goaltenders include sophomore Megan Leikkari, Thunder Bay; and freshman Kim Kobar, The Pas, Manitoba.
Leading the offensive charge are is junior Dani Schultz, who led UWS in scoring last season with 12 goals and 22 assists for 34 points. She was named to the All-NCHA first team.
Lynne Larson was second in scoring as a freshman with nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points, followed by Kerry Mayhew (12-9-21), Kiara DeKezel (15-5-20), Haley Olmstead (11-7-18) and Karen Larson, Lynne’s sister (4-6-10); Alison Shrift (2-8-10).
Other forwards include: sophomores Mara Teschendorf (2-3-5) and Alexis Reid (0-2-2) and freshmen Hailey Adair and Amanda Coey.
The defensive unit includes Sheryl Kaskiw (3-13-16), Kelsey Firkus, Hayley Epema (2-8-10), Caitlyn Hunt (0-4-4), Teal Crosson and newcomer Pamela McLeod
“McLeod is a nice offensive player,” Laughlin said. “Firkus and Crosson are both listed as forwards, but will play defense when needed. Both of them will be able help us out at forward or on defense.
“We have four solid lines and six solid players on defense. We also have room to maneuver things around if we get some injures or sickness. We have the depth to carry on.”
’JACKET JOTTINGS: Schultz, Mayhew, Kaskiw and Crosson are this year’s captains. … Laughlin begins his 11th season at UWS with a record of 178-73-25. Assistant coach Jamie Stauber is beginning his fifth year at UWS. … Laughlin said there is a chance UW-Stout will join the league, possibly next season. … There are plans to play a game in throw-back jerseys, which will feature the old colors of black and orange. … The Yellowjackets have posted 10 straight winning seasons but have not claimed a league title since 2008. … UWS went 16-9-2 overall and 13-6-1 in the NCHA last season. The ’Jackets won eight of their final 11 regular-season games to finish in fourth place, then lost two-one goal games to eventual league champion St. Norbert in the league quarterfinals.
USCHO.com Division III Women’s Poll
Rec Pts LP
1 Elmira (8) 0-0-0 139 NR
2 Plattsburgh (7) 0-0-0 137 NR
3 Middlebury 0-0-0 120 NR
4 Gustavus Adolphus 0-0-0 100 NR
5 Norwich 0-0-0 90 NR
6 UW-River Falls 0-0-0 76 NR
7 Bowdoin 0-0-0 56 NR
8 St. Norbert 0-0-0 42 NR
9 Manhattanville 0-0-0 19 NR
10 UW-Superior 0-0-0 13 NR
Others receiving votes: Adrian 8, Amherst 6, Utica 5, St. Thomas 4, UW-Stevens Point 4, Concordia (Minn.) 3, Lake Forest 2, Bethel 1.
Women’s Hockey Schedule
Fri., Nov. 1 vs. Hamline, 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 2 vs. Hamline, 2 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 8 at Gust Adolphus, 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 9 at Gust Adolphus, 2 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 15 at UW-Eau Claire, 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 16 vs. UW-Eau Claire, 7 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 22 at UW-Stevens Pt, 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 23 at UW-Stevens Pt, 2:30 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 6 vs. UW-River Falls, 7 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 7 at UW-River Falls, 7 p.m.
Tue., Dec. 10 at Augsburg, 7 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 13 at Marian, 7 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 14 at Marian, 4 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 4 at Finlandia, 5 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 5 at Finlandia, noon
Fri., Jan. 10 at St. Benedict, 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 11 at St. Benedict, 7 p.m.
Tue., Jan. 14 at St. Scholastica, 7 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 24 vs. UW-Eau Claire, 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 25 at UW-Eau Claire, 2 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 1 vs. UW-River Falls, 2 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 8 at UW-River Falls, 7 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 14 vs. UW-Stevens Point, 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 15 vs. UW-Stevens Point, 2 p.m.
Tue., Feb. 18 vs. St. Scholastica, 7 p.m.