Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wesleyan Women's Hockey in Promising First Steps of Long Rebuilding Process

The recent seasons for Wesleyan women’s ice hockey have not been pretty. Wesleyan has not won more than five games in the last five seasons. Under Head Coach Jodi McKenna, the Cardinals went 0-16 in the NESCAC for 2010-2011 and have only won two league games overall. To call the program anything over than terrible during this stretch would be a lie. After the team recorded its worst record as a varsity program last season, Wesleyan as nowhere to go but up. The 2011-2012 season is the first step in a long rebuilding process for women’s ice hockey.

For the Cardinals, everything starts with Ashleigh Corvi behind the net. The junior mainstay has a career 4.65 GAA and .896 save percentage while averaging nearly 38 stops a contest. Senior co-captains MJ Cardin and Jill Reynolds will provide much-needed leadership on the ice. Most important to the present and especially future of Wesleyan is the arrival of nine talented newcomers. Four of the freshmen are veterans of Phillips Exeter Academy, one of the most renowned prep programs in the country. Jordan Schildhaus had 22 points in 21 games for the school during her senior season.

“This year’s team is a lot better than last year’s,” McKenna said. “The depth and skill of our freshmen is strong and our veterans are further along than usual.”
Wesleyan immediately threw the monkey off its back by defeating Williams College 5-3 on November 18, the team’s first conference victory in more than a year. The Cardinals were tied at three going into the third period before Scildhaus established herself as a player to watch, netting a goal with 9:40 left to put her team ahead. Time and time again Corvi staved off Williams attempted rally, totaling 13 saves in the final stanza and 32 for the game. Junior Kelsey Mueller earned a hat trick in the contest.

In the rematch the next day, the Ephs scored two power-play goals in the third period to earn a 5-4 victory at home. Senior Julia Mulhern handed the Cardinals the lead at the beginning of the third period, but Williams tied it and then put home the winner at 12:35. Wesleyan had their chances but squandered both a power-play and a two-man opportunity in the time that remained. Corvi put up a valiant effort and finished with 38 saves as her teammates struggled to hold on to the puck. Wesleyan was outshot 44-31 in the contest.

Last Sunday Wesleyan fell to unbeaten Holy Cross College at home, 2-1. Holy Cross held a 12-4 advantage in shots in the first period, and got on the board at the eight minute mark. The Cardinals were able to make the score 2-1 five minutes into the third period but were easily denied for the reminder of the game. Schildhaus’s third goal gave her a share of the team lead. For the second consecutive game the team struggled to put pressure on a team, with Holy Cross establishing a 36-20 edge in shots on the afternoon.

“This season is a learning curve,” McKenna stated. “We have to overcome the hurdle of the team not being competitive for a long time. The team has definitely improved since last year. I’m happy with our performance, but I’m not satisfied.”

Wesleyan returns to the ice tomorrow night at home versus Amherst College.

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