By: Jackson Starr
The cold weather and the earlier sunsets can only mean one thing. Hockey is back, and the Carleton Ravens Women’s hockey team is set to kick off their new season. With a new season comes a fresh start for the Ravens, as the program welcomes a new coaching staff behind the bench. Stacey Colarossi takes the reigns as head coach for Carleton, looking to rebuild a team which struggled to get over the hump in previous years.
The Ravens finished 4-11-0 during the shortened, 15-game 2021-22 season. That was good enough to lock up home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, falling to the Bishop’s Gaiters in the team’s first playoff round since 2013.
This year, a new coaching staff headed by Colarossi is looking to steer the program in a positive direction both on and off the ice. “We want a high-performance program that is checking a lot of boxes in regard to wins and losses but also academic status and standing, community involvement, recruiting, making sure we can improve the game as a whole and the program as a whole.”
The head coach also feels the importance to find a fine line for student-athletes who are coming out of a difficult past couple of seasons. “All athletes right now have been through a lot over the last several years,” Colarossi said. “I think it’s being empathetic to that but also moving forward from that. You can look in your rear-view mirror but really we need to look forward.”
The Ravens carry a lot of skilled players from last year’s team into this year. Carleton will once again rely heavily on the terrific play of goaltender Marie-Eve Cotê, who won all four games for Carleton last season, picking up shutouts in two of the four victories. On the defensive side of things, the returning defensive pairing of Nicole MacNeil and Nicole Hunter will play a key role in both supporting the offence and holding a sturdy back end when the team is in the defensive zone. These two will undoubtedly play a key role for Carleton after Angelina Calocchia and Samantha Andrews both graduated after last season.
Some offensive pieces include fourth-year forward Jenna Morais, who led the team in offence last season. Sandrine Hachez and Hanna Unis-Thibault also return as key pieces to the offence for their final season. Sydney Berta, who finished tied with both Morais and Hunter for the team lead in goals last season, also returns for Carleton looking for another strong year. The Ravens also field a good slew of young talent on their roster for the upcoming season, with first-year players Avery Krawchuk, Cecilia Lopez, Claudia Hennigan, Abigail Byrne, Aofie Mahaffy, Justine Larkin and Shannon McDonald all looking to make an impact in their first season of U-Sports hockey.
Along with the young talent, Colarossi says the senior players are very important to this year’s team as well. “The senior athletes are really the stewards of this program. Everybody’s missed a couple years of hockey or sport, but these athletes that are in their fourth and fifth year that have gone through a lot in their careers, toughed it out and they’re still here. The saying is you want to leave your jersey in a better place and I truly believe that they’re the stewards of our program and they want to leave their jersey in a better place.”
The Ravens will compete in the RSEQ division for the second season in a row, and Colarossi says she knows the difficulty of facing the other division-one schools, looking at the long term with regard to sustained success. “Obviously a tough league in the RSEQ but as the saying goes ‘iron sharpens iron’,” Colarossi says. “If you want to be the best you’ve got to play the best and I think that a huge part (of that) is going to be the recruitment process.”
Colarossi also looks to instill her style of play onto the team, revolving around consistency and relying on a high-speed transition game from defence to offence. “For me a big part of the game is fitness,” she said. “It’s a transition game. I think the game is won in the third period and off transition throughout the game so if you can’t change direction and have an explosion in your game, you’re always going to be chasing the game.”