By Conor Hanlon, Currier Times Staff///
The Curry College Women’s hockey team is only in its second year as a varsity sport at the college after being strictly a club sport for a number of years. Last year was the first year Curry had a varsity and club women’s hockey team.
The Colonels inaugural season ended with a 4-22-1 record and a major upset in the first round of the playoffs against second-seeded Suffolk, where they beat the Rams 3-2, before bowing out to eventual conference champions, Endicott.
So far on the young season, the Colonels have already matched their win total from last year and have already surpassed the total number of points recorded in conference. Their record as of December 13th is 4-6-2 and they are 2-3-2 in conference. The Colonels have dealt with a fair share of injuries, one to goalie Vivi Helquist, and a handful of other players who have missed more than two games.
The stands certainly fill out for the team this year, as many Curry faculty and students make the 15-minute drive down to the Canton Ice House, with others watching the livestream. The fans and parents create an electricity to the arena.
Head Coach Kelly Rider is pleased with the start they’ve had, especially given some of the injuries.
“We have had a good start to conference play,” Rider said. “We have had some injuries to some significant players this first half of the season so far. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish with hopefully a healthy line up.”
The Colonels are still a very young team, with only one senior listed on their roster, goalie Soleil Archambeault. Archambeault has added some veteran experience to a team that only has one year under their belt.
“Soleil’s maturity and experience at the college level I think brings a calmness and assurance sometimes to players. I think it’s helpful to have someone who is a little older who has had different experiences and some different perspectives,” Rider explained. “She can share things she’s learned or seen, and it saves other players from potentially experiencing the same thing, whether individually or collectively as a team. I think Soleil has done a great job not just giving the team confidence through her play, but by making other players confident too.”
Archambeault, a native of London, Ontario, has previous experience at Northland College and Buffalo State University. Coach Rider recruited her to play at Northland before accepting the head coaching position at Curry.
The veteran leadership the netminder provides does not come with any added pressure.
“Even though I am the only senior on the team, I don’t feel any pressure being the team’s veteran leader,” Archambeault said. “While it is easier for me being a leader as a goalie, everyone is equal. We are all on this team for a reason and we all have something to bring to the table.”
Archambeault is doing everything asked of her and always provides her team with a chance to win, as she leads the entire CCC in save percentage with a .970 and goals against average with a 0.98. She was even recognized as the CCC goaltender of the week for the fourth week of the season on 11/21. Archambeault credits her teammates when she claimed the award
“It feels nice to be recognized by the entire conference,” she said. “I always try to be the best I can be on the ice, but I couldn’t have done it without the team. I feel like it’s not just recognition for me but for the team.”
Archambeault is not the only goalie on the team, as the Colonels have had a solid three-person cycle so far in the season. Anna Langton and Sarah Kerr have been in between the pipes when Archambeault isn’t in goal. They all have logged over 100 minutes in goal.
“It is so valuable to have multiple goalies that your team and staff has confidence in and can rely on. I cannot stress how much their play as a group has put us in positions to succeed now and in the future,” Rider said, praising her goalies.
The confidence provided by the solid play of her three goalies, with Helquist out injured, has helped the Colonels keep up with anyone they play.
Another big reason for the Colonels success early on has been their powerplay units. The Colonels rank second in the entire conference with a 25.8% success rate when they get the advantage. 8 of the 13 goals that the Colonels have scored so far this season have come on the powerplay.
“I think the biggest reason for our success on the powerplay right now is we have multiple people stepping up and filling roles when we need it. We have had contributions from multiple players and from both units.” Rider explained.
Rider believes, once players return from injury, that the powerplay success with begin to translate into her team’s offensive scoring when 5-on-5.
With the addition of Archambeault and 10 first-year students the Colonels have extended their bench which adds to the depth of the team.
For the returning players, the year of experience under their belts have helped their play and helped them adjust to life in college.
“Last season our team played against some teams with many grad students as a team of all first years. That’s a big gap to fill with 18-year-olds playing against 22-year-olds from a speed and strength standpoint,” Rider said. “The extra year of experience and extra gains in the weight room have helped. The experience of being a college student is helpful too. Last year, all our players had to navigate college life. They know what to expect as students. When things are more familiar it’s less stressful, you have more time to devote to other things, and it’s easier to let yourself feel the joy and gratitude of playing college hockey. I think some of the success you have seen is a result of that love and fun for the game.”
They currently sit in 5th place in the CCC standings, four points behind Western New England. They look to continue to improve on what has been working and keep up solid performances. Their next home game is after the holiday break, on Friday January 13th, at 7:00 p.m. against Nichols at the Canton Ice House.
Categories: Curry Sports