The women’s hockey team heads into the new season with their sights set on consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association appearances.
“We hung a banner last year and we really exceeded expectations,” said senior defense Nicole Schaub.
At the end of last season the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point women’s hockey team fell to St. Thomas in quarterfinals with a record of 19-6-4.
“We had a good year. We made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years and it was good to get that taste in our mouth,” head coach Ann Ninnemann said.
The Pointers were second in conference below UW-River Falls and would like to come out on top on this season. They want to use that success to earn another trip to nationals.
“We do want to win conference, but we want to go as undefeated so we can try to get a bid from the league to get a spot at nationals,” senior forward Hannah Smith said.
While the team did not go undefeated overall last year, they did not go down without a fight.
“Everyone believed we could win and we beat everyone we played at least once,” Smith said.
There are a few things that the team would like to improve on this year to continue their success.
“We’re always trying to improve our team defense, but we should also focus on offense and scoring goals,” Ninnemann said.
After getting a small bite of the national tournament, Smith wants to see the Pointers make it farther and has some ideas of to make it happen.
“We have to come out strong in the first period,” Smith said. “Personally I want to put up points, be a good leader, and lead by example.”
Schaub also wants to be a good leader on and off the ice and see improvement in herself and the team.
“We need to come to every practice and work hard to make someday everyday,” Schaub said.
There are a number of good things that Ninnemann wants the team to keep doing.
“The work ethic was awesome. We had great intensity, and everyone bought into our system and style and what we do day in and day out,” Ninnemann said.
Smith agreed that everyone bought into the system.
“Our cohesiveness is something I want to see again this year and our confidence was up,” Smith said.
Both Schaub and Smith noted the confidence level of the team was something that increased since last year and they would like to see this again.
“I want to see the same tenacity and drive,” Schaub said.
Like most Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference sports, the women’s hockey conference is tough and the Pointers will face tough games against UW-River Falls and UW-Superior.
However, the challenge does not end there. There are teams outside the conference that will put up a fight as well.
“River Falls is always strong, but St. Thomas and Gustavus will be tough too,” Schaub said.
Even with some tough games headed their way, the Pointers aren’t worried.
“We lost a good group, but lots came back,” Ninnemann said.
“We have a strong freshman class and a strong junior class,” Smith said. “Our goaltender is also doing really well.”
Ninnemann also mentioned the goaltender, Janna Beilke-Skoug, who was named second team All-American last year.
The team dynamic among these ladies is evident.
“We know how to joke around, but we can get serious,” Schaub said.
Ninnemann said the team chemistry was great last year and is similar this year.
“We don’t take each other too seriously, we accept criticism well and the underclassmen felt comfortable talking to upperclassmen,” Smith said.
Home games are played at Ice Hawks Arena. Their first home game will be played Nov. 7.