Once again, we've hit that time of year when many hockey fans switch from "There's so much offseason left!" to "Wait, the season's here already?" With the women's hockey team set to take the ice Friday night against UConn, let's do a quick rundown of this year's incoming class and the upcoming schedule. We'll summarize the league schedule in the coming weeks.
The Engineers add three forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie to the roster for 2012-13, replacing a talented senior class which included Sierra Vadner, Amanda Castignetti, Laura Guillemette, Alicia Miksic, Alisa Harrison, and Jill Vandegrift. The freshmen (and one transfer student) will be counted on to contribute early and often in order to help the upperclassmen build from last year's disappointing 9-21-4 record and make it back to the playoffs after last year's miss.
On the blue line, Delaney Middlebrook (who transferred in from the now-defunct Niagara University team) will join the team as a sophomore. A 2-year captain at her high school in Minnesota, Middlebrook was a high scoring defenseman who may help to add some points from the blue line. She will be joined by freshmen Brandi Banks and Jenn Godin, both of whom were named MVP of their respective teams prior to their arrival at RPI.
Up front, Alexa Gruschow and Lauren Wash join Mari Mankey (sister of junior forward Missy Mankey) in the freshman class. Gruschow played for the Washington Pride in the JWHL in addition to her high school's boys hockey team. She racked up 108 points in 62 games in 2011-12, with even more penalty minutes (110). Wash was a two-time captain and assistant captain for the New Jersey Rockets of the MAWHA, and led the league in game winning goals. Mankey was also a two-time captain and a top student at Hopkins HS in Minnetonka, MN.
After a trial-by-fire season in goal which saw freshmen Brianna Piper and Kelly O'Brien split time in net, the now-sophomore tandem will be joined by newcomer Sara Till from Rice Memorial HS in Burlington, who captained her team three years in ice hockey as well as a year in field hockey and was named team MVP of both teams as well as lacrosse. After last year's split time, and with Till thrown into the mix, it's anyone's guess as to how the goaltending duties will be divided as the season gets underway.
With no exhibition on the schedule this year, the Engineers will jump right into action this coming weekend with a home series against UConn before hitting the road to take on BU (who fell to Cornell in triple overtime of the NCAA Quarterfinals last season) and Northeastern. The last meeting between the Engineers and Huskies was a 5-1 thrashing by the home team in Boston.
The Engineers will host Union in a non-conference affair before opening up the ECAC schedule in the final week of October at SLU and Clarkson. A road trip to Burlington for a Halloween special against UVM will be followed up by a home series against Princeton and Quinnipiac, before a pair at home against Robert Morris and another on the road at Syracuse will round out the non-conference schedule.
From there, the bulk of the ECAC schedule remains, with a home pair against Providence on 1/11 and 1/12 providing the only other break in the conference action for the remainder of the season.
We'll take a look at the preseason polls in the coming weeks along with a preview of the ECAC schedule and recaps of the season's first games. Keep an eye out on Twitter at @without_a_peer for live tweets of home games once again this season, with score updates (and scattered live tweets) from road games as the season gets underway.