After only winning 13 games last season, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point women’s hockey team already has five wins for this young season.
The Pointers currently hold a record of 5-1-2, including an undefeated conference record of 4-0-2.
“So far we’ve had a great start,” said Head Coach Ann Ninnemann. “We’ve kind of eased into it. We haven’t had our toughest competition yet, but it’s coming up in the near future.”
The Pointers are set to continue their tough conference schedule this weekend, when they travel to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The Falcons are undefeated at home this season.
“We’ve got some tough games coming up this weekend,” Ninnemann said. “River Falls will be the true test to see where we’re at.”
A major reason for the team’s success so far has been the emergence of some new faces to the program.
“A lot of our new players, including nine freshmen, have definitely stepped up,” Ninnemann said. “It’s been great to see them come in and contribute because we are definitely going to need them.”
Ninnemann explained that the team’s top three lines have evened out their scoring this season. “It’s unusual for a team to have three great powerful lines up front,” Ninnemann said.
Besides the even scoring attack and new players stepping up, other facets of the game have also improved.
“Our goal tending has been a lot better this year than it has been in the past, along with our defense,” Ninnemann said.
“We’ve put the stress on defense, and we’ve become a defense-first team.
Stevens Point uses a goalie in committee style. Sophomores Janna Beilke-Skoug and Hillary Drake have both started multiple times in goal for the Pointers. Beilke-Skoug leads the team with 94 saves on the season.
UWSP is led in scoring by junior forwards Cassandra Salmen and Allie Tanzer, who both have a team high of seven goals. Salmen has also contributed four assists for a team high of 11 points.
Tanzer has also had a remarkable start to her season. Having only taken 14 shots on goal, Tanzer has made 50 percent of the shots she’s taken.
Although Ninnemann is pleased with the team’s performance so far, she explained that there are always things to improve.
“Obviously we wish the loss and the two ties were a different story, but we’ve learned a lot of our lessons,” Ninnemann said.
“There are times where we go out and have a good period, and then we’ll come in and have a bad period or start slow,” Ninnemann said. “It’s about being consistent through an entire game and an entire weekend, just playing to the level we are capable of.”
If the Pointers can become consistent, Ninnemann said that they are going to be a scary team to face. “We were picked to finish sixth or seventh in the conference. That’s way below our expectations,” Ninnemann said.