Young women’s hockey team looks to improve upon disappointing 2014-15 campaign

Early practice schedule, renewed optimism become new themes for hopeful Bears

Contributing Writer
Friday, October 23, 2015

Catherine LeBoeuf ’17 skates toward a puck in the corner. Brown won only two games last year, but under a new coach and with newfound talent, the Bears hope to steadily gain on their ECAC opponents.

Anyone going to Meehan Auditorium at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday will be able to find the women’s ice hockey team, as part of an unusual regimen under new head coach Bob Kenneally ’90.

Kenneally likes to tell his players they are likely the only Division 1 team practicing at that hour — while most of their opponents are sleeping — with the aim that by the time the season starts Oct. 23 against Maine, they will be prepared to outwork any other team.

Kenneally represents a paradigm shift in the mentality of the women’s hockey team this year, a mentality which he hopes will allow the team to transition from a culture of losing — they won only two games last year  — to one of optimism.

“When the norm is not being successful in terms of wins and losses, teams can buy into that and accept it after a while,” Kenneally said. “We are trying to change that norm to be more of a team that is expecting to be successful and expecting to win games.”

Kenneally is well-equipped for the task: He played for the Brown men’s hockey team in the late 80s and spent 20 years working in the Department of Athletics, including as head coach of men’s and women’s golf, and most recently as executive asociate director of athletics. His extensive experience with Brown makes him especially sympathetic to the needs of a working student-athlete.

“He has a great understanding of the demands of our schedule,” said assistant captain Hunter Davis ’16. “He knows what it is like to eat and live and breathe as a student-athlete. There is a difference between someone who has lived it and someone who has not had that experience.”

Joining Kenneally in providing new life to the team is a promising group of six first-years. Kenneally says that three of these first-years — forwards Bridget Carey ’19, Cara Najjar ’19 and Abby Niewchas ’19 — will form the core of his primary power play unit, marking a rarity for first-years at the college level.

In addition to the young guns, the team’s offense will be led by the strong shot of assistant captain Maddie Woo ’17 and the explosive quickness of last year’s leading goal-scorer Sam Donovan ’18. Co-captains Alli Rolandelli ’16 and shot blocking specialist Kelly Micholson ’16 will anchor the defense along with Davis. Between the pipes, Kenneally says he plans to rotate between his two goalies, Monica Elvin ’17 — who had an impressive .904 save percentage last season — and Julianne Landry ’18.

The Bears have reason to be optimistic in their upcoming series against Maine starting this Friday, having won both times they faced the Black Bears last year.

“We definitely have a younger team now,” Woo said. “We’ve graduated a lot of older players. But I feel like we all have the same vision; we are all on the same page. We are really fired up.”