The Mustangs’ inaugural year in the Colonial Hockey Conference (CHC) ended on a high note this past weekend with a title win in double-overtime against Endicott College 2-1.
Sophomore forward Chelsea Blackburn scored the Mustangs’ first goal in the third period, increasing her league-high goal count to 19. This tied the score 1-1. Blackburn scored the goal in just over a minute into the third period. Her quickness on the ice is something she regards as a personal strength: “I would have to say one of my biggest strengths on the ice would be my speed. I use it to my advantage every chance I get.”
Senior forward Jessie Capanelli gave Stevenson the win by netting a shot at the 12 minute, 25 second mark in the second overtime period. The Mustangs had 46 total shots on goal, while senior goalie Sarah Modzelewski saved 44 out of 45 shots on their goal. Modzelewski’s 44 saves are the second-best in program history, just six short of the record, also set by Modzelewski. She was also named Most Valuable Player.
Stevenson had 15 wins this season, and their off-season preparation was a key factor in their success.
Head coach Tracy Johnson said, “I think most successful teams in the playoffs have put in proper the preparation leading up to the season, and our team was no exception. They started the season ready for the physical demands of the sport.” The effort put in by team allowed practices to focus more on their technique and strategies.
Senior defense Tori Emoff added, “We were able to start the season off in great condition, leaving more time to work on systems, skills, and focus more on the tactical parts of hockey, rather than spending the first couple weeks getting back into shape.”
However, with all of their success, the Mustangs did face three consecutive defeats. This could have derailed their momentum, but the team took these defeats as learning opportunities. Senior forward Jessie Capanelli commented on how the team actually learned from their opponents: “Our losses this season were against teams that made decisions very quickly. We learned from this and worked on becoming a team that did the same thing. Two extra seconds can make a big difference.” Modzelewski was also named the CHC All-Tournament Team with teammates Emoff, Blackburn and Capanelli.
This was the best possible result for the Mustangs as they played in a new conference this year. Despite having a strong season, they also faced adversity, but were able to grow from it. However, Johnson is already thinking about next season and the future of the Mustangs in the CHC.
“Next season started today… to find the next generation of Mustangs.” Unfortunately, since this was the first year of the conference, the Mustangs did not get an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. They also missed out on the at-large bid because only a few teams qualify. However, the Mustangs look to defend their CHC title next year and create a path to an NCAA bid.