Ravens ready to fly into new season

By Andrew Hoenig

After a strong third place finish last season in the NEWHA Open Tournament, the Franklin Pierce women’s ice hockey team is already looking ahead to the 2018-2019 campaign.

This year’s Ravens will look to write their own story and build on last season’s success, even though head coach David Stockdale says the team will not focus very much on anything that happened last year.

“It’s a new year with a new group pf players,” said Stockdale. “We have always been a very process-oriented program. We have certain expectations for our players and how we will do things.”

Stockdale’s approach for the last 6 seasons has resonated with the players and has resulted in success for the program. After the 2017-2018 season, Stockdale’s record with the team has climbed to an impressive 96-51-8.

Coach David Stockdale – man in the suit (Photo: athletics.franklinpierce.edu)

The players gravitate toward him and buy in to what he teaches them. One such player is forward Nicole Amato.

Amato had an impressive freshman year playing in all 30 of the Ravens games. She led the team in goals and assists and accounted for 38 total points, also a team high. Amato says that Stockdale has impacted her in a very positive way.

“He’s very knowledgeable. He knows the game of hockey like the back of his hand and presents that day-to-day,” Amato said. “His systems work when properly executed and that seems to motivate us especially during big games.”

Amato has been working on summer conditioning as she treks toward her sophomore season. Each player is given the same program over the summer from head strength and conditioning coach Marcus Williams.

Amato shared some of where her focus has been in preparation for this upcoming year. “For myself, I wanted to focus on upper body strength. But I think the overall phase that Coach Williams wanted us to focus on was drive and force.”

Amato’s efforts this summer mirror what her coach has said should be the key to future team success. Stockdale said, ”Individually, players need to understand that having success last year doesn’t mean it’s destined to happen again this year without putting in the effort on and off the ice to replicate or improve upon that success.”

This shows just how in-tune Stockdale’s players are with what he sells them. Now departed seniors, like forward Alex Brolsma and goaltender Madison Murray, bought into it. And the product has been wins and trips deep into the postseason.

One of the challenges this team will face in the upcoming year will be replacing the production of its seniors, most notably Broslma who became the school’s all-time points scoring leader. But Stockdale seemed cool when he responded to this ‘challenge’.

“In a perfect world, you’d love to be able to bring everyone back from one season to the next, but replacing players is nothing new to our program,” said Stockdale. “While we graduated some terrific players and people in the class of 2018, no players are bigger than the program and we have plenty of talent still in our locker room that we will look to in order to pick up some of the slack from the players who are no longer here.”

Amato, fellow sophomore forwards Marissa Massaro and Haley Parker, sophomore goalie Kelly Turney, and junior goalie Jessica Strack among others will be called upon to help carry the load for this young 2018-2019 squad. In fact, no players for this upcoming season are currently slated to graduate next spring.

“We won’t be looking to any one player to pick up the slack on their own,” Stockdale said.

The Ravens will also have five new incoming players this Fall and Stockdale says he and his coaching staff will do the best to incorporate those players into the lineup and find them the roles where they can be set up for success both on and off the ice.

“Our returning players have played a lot of minutes early in their careers so the incoming players are fortunate that they get to learn the ropes from a group that has gained a ton of experience over the past couple of seasons,” said Stockdale. “My hope is that that helps ease their transition.”

Another point of emphasis for the team next season will be getting off to a better start. The Ravens finished 13-6-2 but started slow opening with a 3-6 record. Team chemistry was a point of emphasis towards the end of the year, especially how the players had really come together as a group according to Stockdale.

Nicole Amato should be a big part of continued success for the Ravens (Photo: athletics.frankilinpierce.edu)

“I think our team is very close knit; we are all friends outside of hockey and spend lots of time together and I plan on continuing [that] into the oncoming school year,” Amato said. “I’m looking forward to adding some new freshman to our program and watching how well they will influence our team.”

The foundation for success has once again been set by Stockdale and his players are settling in for the long haul.

“Collectively, the players need to understand that success or failure against any single team last season doesn’t guarantee success or failure this year,” said Stockdale. “Our goals are more things like let’s get stronger, let’s work hard at practice, let’s come back from summer break fit, let’s do well in school, etc. If we do these things consistently I feel that the results will take care of themselves.”

Poised to improve upon her outstanding freshman year, Amato said, “Overall, I want to do my job, try my hardest, and let everything fall into place.”

Stockdale and his players are in harmony when they talk about how success will follow as long as the team focuses on working hard on all the right aspects of life. The Ravens are already ahead of the game in preparation for their new season.

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