Christian Rodriguez, Assistant Sports Editor
The Utica College women’s hockey team is coming off a 17-9-1 season and are looking to build on their success this year. The team has switched leagues, and head coach Dave Clausen says he isn’t sure what to expect.
“With new opponents that we haven’t played before, it’s going to be tough to know what to expect,” Clausen said. “But the realistic expectation this year will be heart. I know we are going to be tough to play against if we just play hard. The wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
Though they have graduated five seniors from last year’s team, including goalie Keira Goin who is now playing professionally in the NWHL, Clausen said the Pioneers still have experienced athletes on the ice who can make an impact this year.
“We graduated an All-American, All-conference player and three of the top four scorers,” Clausen said. “We are looking for players to step up into some key roles this season.”
The point of emphasis for the 2017-18 season for the Pioneers is to work hard, according to Clausen.
“Like any team, we need to be accountable for ourselves,” Clausen said. “Everyone has a job to do, so we can’t let personal things get in the way of the team’s success. We are a really good group.”
Clausen believes team captain Taylor Osowski, who scored 10 goals last season, will be a key player to contribute to the team’s success this season.
Osowski says she is looking forward to the new season and expects great things from the team this year.
“My expectations for the season are pretty high,” Osowski said. “We have a great mix of returning players as well as new additions that all bring something to the table. We are in a new league this year so we won’t be playing the same teams as usual, but I am confident that if we work hard we will be successful.”
Osowski’s off-season training was spent off the ice, but she was back in the rink as soon as she got back to campus.
“This summer I was focused mostly on my strength and endurance, as well as some skill work,” Osowski said.
With her final season approaching, Osowski has a personal goal to be more of a leader for her teammates both on and off the ice.
“It’s my last year, and I’m hoping to make it my best year so far,” Osowski said.
Senior Kelly Critzer is pumped for the new season and the league change.
Critzer says her time at home this summer was well spent as she really focused on her strength and conditioning for her senior season. Going into her last year, Critzer is expecting a lot from herself.
“I want to make the most of the season and enjoy the time I have left as a Utica College athlete and hockey player,” Critzer said. “I’m looking to fill a bigger role on my team this year than I have in the past and hope to contribute to a successful season for us. We want to win in the playoffs and my personal goal is to contribute to our team having that success.”
The Pioneers are set to kick off their season opener against the visiting Pilgrims of New England College Saturday, Oct. 28.