Written by Kassia Skorzewska
Photo by Marc Lafleur
“Our goal is to make playoffs,” Carleton Ravens women’s hockey head coach Pierre Alain said.
In the better part of six years, the Ravens have had the best preseason record since Alain has taken over coaching the team.
“I think we have improved all aspects of our game, especially the powerplay and PK, because this is very important in a game now, your specialty teams have to be top notch when you play at this level, and so far, we’re very happy,” Alain said.
The team has taken hold of an 8-2 record through 10 preseason games, and have scored ten goals on the powerplay, while only giving up three on the PK.
“In our division, when the season starts, if you score three goals, you’re pretty much close to winning, but less than three goals, than it’s going to be very tight. But so far, in terms of team dynamic, team building, everything is going the right way,” Alain said.
Last season, the Ravens saw four players graduate. Nicole Allison, Shannon Pearson, Jamie Wainman, and Katelyn Steele.
In replacement, they recruited Jenna Morais, Marie-Eve Cote, Nicole MacNeil, Grace Tam, Stephanie Chouchani, Jordyn Pimm, Claire Merrick, and Hanna Unis-Thibault.
“They’re here for the right reason. They want to graduate, and they also want to play hockey, and so far, what I’ve seen from them, is they’re very committed,” Alain said about what he’s seen from the recruits.
“They are dedicated to work hard, to work on ice, to work off ice, and they are progressing very well. They add to what we already have, so, with them this year, we’re better and we also have more depth,” he added.
With 17 forwards, eight defenceman, and three goaltenders, Alain has some cuts to make to get the roster down to 23. And from what Alain said, the decisions are hard as everyone is working towards winning each night.
“They’re making our decision very tough to make because they’ve been working very hard, and we’ve been winning with the whole roster we have,” Alain said.
In terms of cutting the roster, Alain touched upon the compete level he’s seeing at practices.
“Win battles, score goals, be involved in the play, and execute what we ask them to execute. We have a plan,” Alain said.
“We have a game plan, we have a practice plan, and we have goals for each practice, so, execute those goals, and you’re showing us that you care about what we do, and you’re working hard to execute and succeed in what we’re practicing in practices,” he added.
The work student intern nutritionist Aja Gyimah has been doing with the team has also been helping the athletes to cook and eat nutritious food in order to prepare for games.
“They really like what Aja did with them, because she had a couple of workshops, even cooking with them one night, so that was neat,” Alain said.
“And they enjoy it, and also, they’re elite athletes, and they need to get the best fuel to be healthy, and ready for the workload. Because it’s a pretty heavy workload. School and hockey is not easy, but with all the sessions that Aja ran with them, it was very good,” he added.
The Ravens now have a two-week break before they open their regular season in Montreal against the Montreal Carabins on Oct. 18.
“Offence. We’re going to review our D-zone coverage, we’re going to work on entries, we’re going to work on O-zone stuff, and keep working on the details, like, finish your check, make sure you win those battles, compete hard,” Alain said.
“So, these next two weeks will be about competing, and to be ready to compete in our division,” he added.
Aside from the regular season though, Alain feels like he’s learned a lot from the team he has this year.
“I see a tight group, and I see a group with character, because we came from behind in three games in exhibition, and that shows me that this group is working as a team,” Alain said.
“And also, they have the character to come from behind if we need to come from behind. They believe that they can do it now,” he added.
And in terms of the outlook he sees on the season, Alain believes that playoffs are in the picture.
“And I think this year, with the depth we have, we have a very good chance of making the playoffs,” he said.