The women’s ECAC Hockey Coaches Preseason Poll was announced Wednesday, and the coaches believe that RPI and Union won’t make the postseason.
RPI was picked to finish 10th in the 12-team conference and earned 30 points. Union was selected to finish last and got 14 points. Unlike the men’s league, which takes all 12 teams to the postseason, only eight make the playoffs on the women’s side.
Both the Dutchwomen and the Engineers returned to action last season after sitting out the 2020-21 campaign because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Dutchwomen were 2-20 in conference play and 5-28-1 overall. They struggled to score and were shut out 16 times.
Union head coach Josh Sciba wasn’t shocked with where his team was selected.
“Certainly, we’ll use it as motivation for our group,” Sciba said during the conference’s virtual media day Wednesday. “It’s still going to be more about [the] process for our group. I think that the preseason poll is not a surprise for our group, given where we finished last year, and it’s really up to us to earn a better slot than that. We have to earn everything, and we understand that. But I think for us, it’s just focusing on the process of how we can capture more key moments and win more different situations that will lead to better results and outcomes over the course of the season.”
After going 0-33-1 overall and losing all 22 ECACH games in 2019-20, RPI posted a 5-17 conference mark, finishing 10th, and a 9-23 overall record last season.
“It’s always important to get some results for your hard work and everything else,” RPI head coach Bryan Vines said. “I found last year that we were pretty much in every game against some really good teams; taking Colgate to overtime, taking Harvard to overtime and getting a big win finally at Cheel [Arena against Clarkson], which I think had been over 10 years since we’ve won up there. So, as a young group, it’s really important to get some results for your effort, and we hope to build on that, obviously, going into the season.”
Both teams play exhibition games this weekend. Union will host Syracuse at 3 p.m. Saturday at Messa Rink, while RPI entertains Montreal at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The Dutchwomen haven’t had much practice time. They just started last Wednesday, the first day of classes. They open the season next Friday at New Hampshire.
“Just having some video on everybody would be fantastic [and] to be able to sit down with players and be able to teach them,” Sciba said. “It’s been a really short preseason, … so you’re talking probably seven, eight practices before we play a hockey game. From a systematic perspective, from just a practice perspective, obviously, we’re going to be rusty.
“It’s going to be a great game for us to have our kids competing, just trying some of the things that we’ve been teaching and then just have some opportunities to really coach up individuals after the game. We’re just looking for everybody to play. I think we’re going to get everybody in. Our goal is to have everybody get out there and get the cobwebs out and just build some confidence in terms of how we want to play.”
The Engineers open their season Sept. 30 when they play at St. Cloud State, so they will have some time to practice prior to the start of their campaign.
Asked what he expects out of the exhibition game, Vines said, “We’ve got a large roster, so I think it’s a great opportunity to kind of get a good feel for where people are going to fit in that roster. We plan to play a big lineup against Montreal and get some of our younger players some experience and give some players that are battling to make our lineup an opportunity to show what they can do.
“I think always in an exhibition game, it’s a great learning tool to go back and the things you’ve been working on as a team, now you’re in live competition. You get to come back, watch the tape, make some adjustments, learn, teach. I think we really look at that exhibition game as that.”
Colgate, the two-time defending ECACH tournament champions, were picked to win the regular season. The Raiders received six of 12 first-place votes and earned 115 points.
Yale is second with three first-place votes and 98 points, one more than third-place Princeton, which received a first-place vote. Quinnipiac is fourth with 92 points, followed by Clarkson in fifth with one first-place vote and 86 points and Cornell in sixth with 73 points.
Harvard is picked to finish seventh. The Crimson received a first-place vote and earned 67 points. St. Lawrence is eighth with 60 points, Brown is ninth with 33 points and Dartmouth is 11th with 27 points.
Colgate and Yale each placed two players on the preseason All-ECACH team. The Colgate players are forwards Danielle Serdachny and Kalty Kaltounkova, while the Yale representatives are defenseman Emma Seitz and forward Elle Hartje.
The other two members of the team are St. Lawrence goalie Lucy Morgan and Cornell defenseman Rory Guilday.
OH CAPTAINS, MY CAPTAINS
Both teams named their captains this week.
Union named senior defenseman Emily King as their captain. King had four goals and nine assists in 34 games.
RPI will have co-captains, senior goalie Amanda Rampado and forward Marah Wagner. Rampado went 8-33-0 with a 2.70 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage and three shutouts.
Wagner, an alternate captain last season, led the Engineers in scoring last season with 11 goals and 10 assists.