Squad makes playoffs for first time since 2006

Sports Editor
Monday, February 27, 2012

The women’s hockey team’s season came to a close this weekend after the Bears were twice downed by No. 3 Cornell in Ithaca in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. Ivy champion the Big Red (28-3, 20-2) will now move on to the next round while Bruno (8-16-7, 5-13-4) heads home. But a pair of losses to one of the top teams in the nation fails to put an accurate meter on the strides the squad made this year — in Head Coach Amy Bourbeau’s first season at the helm, the Bears made the conference playoffs for the first time since 2006.  

Bourbeau was named head coach in August 2011, taking over for Digit Murphy, who retired after 22 seasons as the team’s head coach. Under Murphy, the team won 306 games, six ECAC titles and reached three national championship games. But as of late, the team’s fortunes had taken a turn for the worse. In the 2010-2011 season, the team won only three games. Last year, the team only won twice.

“They had … kind of lost their passion to play,” Bourbeau said.  

But Bourbeau, who had 12 years of coaching experience as an assistant coach at Princeton, wasted little time settling in. In a short time, Bourbeau and the two new assistant coaches, Andy McPhee and Lucy Schoedel, were able to implement a number of changes to help turn the program back in the right direction. One of those changes was ensuring ice time for every player. 

“Last year, not everyone played,”  Bourbeau said. “We tried to find more roles for players who didn’t play last year. This year, everyone played, and everyone had a role.”  

Bourbeau also said the team has changed its philosophy in practice to one that benefits the team on and off the ice.  

“We try to have short, intense practices and give the players a balance between being a student and an athlete,” Bourbeau said. “They kind of had that taken away from them last year and had too much on their plate.”  

Bourbeau said the team embraced the changes brought by her and her staff, and this was visible on the ice and in the locker room.  

“They have more confidence and really show their passion for the game,” Bourbeau said. “They’re excited when they come to the rink. They really want to be here and they believe in what we’re trying to do. When they play in games, they have confidence in their ability to win.” 

This new attitude has been evident throughout the season. The team started off the year with a 10-0 blowout of Sacred Heart — a scoreline it repeated against the same team Dec. 7 — and from there continued on to register a season sweep of Ivy rival Yale and wins over ECAC opponents Union, Rensselaer and Colgate. They also took home the silverware after a Mayor’s Cup victory over Bourbeau’s alma mater, Providence College. Even in losing efforts, the team hung tight with some of the nation’s top teams, including a 3-1 defeat to then-No. 4 Boston College, a 3-1 loss to then-No. 10 Dartmouth and a 4-2 loss to Cornell this weekend in the first of the three-game playoff series. 

Perhaps most impressive is that the improved results have come with a team whose roster did not drastically change from last year’s two-win squad. Captain Katelyn Landry ’12 led the team in points with 19, and goalie Aubree Moore ’14 played a huge role in the team’s success. Moore, who was named to the All-Ivy First Team this week, ranked third in the country in save percentage and is a candidate for the ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Year Award. 

“I’m incredibly happy with our team,” Bourbeau said. “We won a lot more games than in the past, so our record itself shows a lot of improvement with pretty much the same team.” 

Though much of the team has spent some previous time on College Hill, there were a number of first-years who made a marked difference on the team, especially up front. Forward Sarah Robson ’15 led the team with 10 goals, and Janice Yang ’15 and Brittany Moorehead ’15 both logged double-digit points.  

The season could very well prove to be a turning point in Brown women’s hockey. Including Landry, the team will see only five seniors graduate in May. Moore will return in net for two more years, while the team’s six first-years will come back with a season of experience under their belts.  

It may be the beginning of a new era of success for the program. This season sent a message to the rest of the ECAC that the Bears have poked their heads out from their two-year hibernation — and next year, they may get the honey.

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