By Gabriel Rodrigues, Sports Editor
Despite managing only three wins throughout the 2014-15 OUA women’s hockey campaign, Laurentian’s head coach believes her players have gained “valuable experience” as the team moves forward to next season.
“It was a hard year,” said Stacey Colarossi. “At the end of the day, it is only the second year of the program, so this helps solidify our foundation in regards to how much work goes into to being a high performance athlete and team. It’s up to us to learn from it and start working hard for next year.”
While last year’s inaugural season saw the Voyageurs miss out on the playoffs by only two points, Laurentian finished this OUA campaign with a record of 3-16-5 in 24 games, leaving them 12th in the province with 11 points, just three points ahead of the last place Brock Badgers.
Laurentian captain Julie Hebert led the Voyageurs with 12 points, seven goals and five assists, in 24 games.
Second-year forwards Jessica Staats and Amanda Pereira contributed with ten and seven points respectively throughout the season.
Colarossi said “expectations were high” going into this season after narrowly making the postseason last year.
“This league continually gets better and better each year,” she said. “We talked to the girls about over achieving in their inaugural season and hopefully with the year they just had, our team will realize what it takes to be a top contender. We just need to keep laying down our foundation and get better and stronger.”
Laurentian struggled to put the puck in the net this season, as the Voyageurs managed only 1.42 goals a game with an overall 34 goals in 24 games.
Although goals came hard to come by, Colarossi said her team improved in shots generated each game with the Voyageurs finishing fourth in the league with 24.4 shots-per-game.
“We obviously lacked some offense,” she said. “We didn’t score many goals, and until the Christmas break, we weren’t even hitting 20 shots a game. After Christmas, we were actually one of the top teams in the CIS with shots on goal. Improving on shots is great, but we need to execute and finish around the net as well.”
While the Voyageurs managed to produce more offensive chances, defensively Laurentian’s goalies, Laura Deller and Emily Toffoli, combined to make 674 saves throughout the season, which was the second most in the OUA.
The Voyageurs averaged 3.32 goals against per game, and according to Colarossi, her squad needs to learn “to take care of both ends of the ice.”
“It’s a whole team game,” she said. “I’m not just going to put the blame on the goalies because that is not fair. We can’t expect them to make every save, that’s why defensive coverage is so important to any team’s success.”
While recruitment is now Colarossi’s next step for the upcoming season, she said her team’s approach to every single game will change.
“I’m looking to separate the season in small chunks,” said Colarossi. “I’ll be breaking the year down in five game segments, which will be good for the girls to focus on just those five games. If we are 3-2 in every five game segment, then we will be in good shape with the best of them.”
Colarossi is optimistic for next season, but hopes her squad can learn from some of the mistakes with this OUA campaign and realize that “nothing is free in this world.”
“We have to put the work in and that work starts in May, if not sooner,” Colarossi said. “If you look at really good teams, all those players train for 11 months out of the year. This league is tough and the process is not easy because every other team want to win as well, but if the players buy into our plan, the outcome will hopefully be different next year.”