The Northeastern women’s hockey team is already well on its way to accomplishing a goal that has eluded the program since its inception in 1980: a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Currently ranked No. 9 in the nation, the Huskies opened the 2015-16 season late last month against St. Lawrence playing to a tie in the first game, 2-2, and winning the second game, 9-5.
This year’s team was picked to finish third in the preseason Women’s Hockey East coaches’ preseason poll, and will welcome Syracuse University in its home opener at Matthews Arena Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. League play opens on Oct. 24 against Boston University at Matthews.
We asked head coach Dave Flint and forward and team captain Kendall Coyne about the expectations for this year and what it will take to reach the team’s goals.
What are your expectations for this season?
Flint: We always want to win the Hockey East tournament and get that NCAA bid, but I think my expectations are a little higher this year because of the core group we have. We had a young team last year with nine freshmen, but they got a lot of playing time so they are a little more seasoned and we’ve got some good senior leadership.
Coyne: Our program has never made the NCAA tournament and I just get the chills thinking about it because it’s something we really want to accomplish.
What have you learned about this year’s team from the first two games of the season?
Coyne: I’m really impressed with the overall chemistry the team has. We have a really good group of players and I think the chemistry we have off the ice is going to be crucial for how we perform on it.
Based on last season, are there any areas you’ve paid close attention to during the preseason?
Flint: I feel like we gave up too many shots and goals last year, which is just part of having a young team. So we’ve focused on the defensive zone and just being more consistent on both ends of the ice.
What excites you most about this new season?
Flint: The players have a really fresh outlook on the year and they are very focused. They are very mature in their approach and there is a different feeling in the locker room right now.
Kendall, you are just 44 points away from becoming the all-time leading scorer in Northeastern women’s hockey history. Is that feat a priority for you this year?
Coyne: I’m not too focused on it. If it happens it is because of the teammates I have been fortunate enough to play with. I’m just working on being better for my team.