Friday, September 19, 2014

Former Dutchmen Christiansen joins USHL

by Ryan Fay

Former Union men's hockey player Doug Christiansen joined the U.S Hockey League as Director of Player Development and Recruitment, it was announced Friday.

In the newly-created position, Christiansen will manage the USHL's player recruitment efforts with communications aimed at players, parents, and family advisors. He will also be responsible for developing a strategy for expanding the league's player development events, such as the USHL Player Combines.

“We’re excited about growing our efforts to tell a more complete story about the benefits of playing in the USHL to a number of constituent audiences,” said USHL President and Commissioner Bob Fallen. “His experience as a player in our league, as a college student-athlete, and ultimately as a professional hockey player and coach give him a unique perspective on the developmental opportunities for young, elite players.”

Christiansen was a forward and defenseman for Union from 1998-2002. The 36-year-old spent the past seven seasons as the head coach and Director of Hockey Operations for three teams in the Elite Ice Hockey League, the top professional league in the United Kingdom. He recently returned to the United States and assisted the Boston Bruins with their summer development camp.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

O Captain! My Captain?

by Ryan Fay

The big mystery surrounding the Union men's hockey program is who succeeds defenseman Mat Bodie as team captain.

Bodie, the captain the past two years, graduated and left the captaincy up for grabs. The next captain is expected to be named at media day on Oct. 3. While there are many deserving candidates on the roster, one seems more likely than others.

That would be senior defenseman Charlie Vasaturo, who had five assists and a team-high 62 blocked shots in 42 games last season.

A team captain needs to be well-respected inside the locker room. That isn't an issue with Vasaturo.

"Everyone respects him in the room," Bodie told the Times Union last season. "He might be a quieter guy in the dressing room, but he's got that quiet respect that everyone gives him. He plays the game right, he plays the game honest."

When Vasaturo suffered a serious knee injury late in the 2012-2013 season, he proved his toughness by getting back to the bench instead of staying on the ice and waiting for an official to blow the whistle. It set the kind of example one would want to see from a captain.

"The epitome of Charlie was when he was injured, how he came back, got up, even with the knee, and made it to the bench," Dutchmen head coach Rick Bennett said last season. "Everybody saw it. It was one of the toughest things I've seen."

There's been a preference towards making defensemen captains in recent years. A defenseman has been captain of the Dutchmen for four straight years, going back to when Brock Matheson held the role in 2010-2011. The last time that a non-defenseman held sole possession of the captaincy was 2007-2008, when forward Matt Cook had it.

But perhaps most importantly, Bennett has said he wouldn't mind making a captain out of the Sewell, New Jersey native.

"He brings it in the classroom, and he brings it on the ice," Bennett said last season. "He was recruited here to be exactly what he is today. He's a first-class guy. We would have no problem putting an 'A,' or a 'C' on his jersey."

The guess here is Vasaturo's jersey is soon adorned with that 'C'.

Johnston named volunteer assistant coach

by Ryan Fay

Former Union women's hockey defenseman Ashley Johnston has been named volunteer assistant coach for the Dutchwomen for the 2014-2015 season.

Johnston registered five goals and 14 assists in 130 games for the Dutchwomen from 2010-2014. She served as one of the team's two captains last season and recorded three goals and three assists in 34 contests.

Johnston was selected to the ECAC Hockey All-Academic Teams in each of her four years at Union. Last year, she received an award for Community Service and Outreach at the annual Senior Appreciation Awards Event. The Burlington, Ontario native was also a candidate for the Hockey Humanitarian Award.

Since graduating in June, the 22-year-old has been working as a project engineer at PVA and intends to start her master's degree in mechanical engineering this winter.

The Dutchwomen haven't had a volunteer assistant coach since Kate Gallagher in 2012-2013. She's now an assistant coach at William Smith.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gonye no longer on Dutchmen (updated)

By Ryan Fay

Forward Alex Gonye has played his last game for the Union men's hockey team.

His status became a question after he wasn't listed on the 2014-2015 roster that was posted to the Union athletics website on Monday. A team spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that Gonye, who would have been a sophomore this season, left Union after the spring semester ended in June.

A source indicated Tuesday night that Gonye transferred to Division III Williams College, the same school where his father, Peter, played collegiate hockey. Gonye won't be subject to transfer rules and will be eligible to play for the Ephs right away.

Gonye, 20, came to Union after a stellar prep career with Deerfield Academy. In his final two seasons with Deerfield, he recorded 24 goals and 33 assists in 49 games.

When his commitment was formally announced by Union last summer, head coach Rick Bennett lauded Gonye's offensive abilities and said he had the potential to develop into a "top forward" for the Dutchmen.

That potential wasn't on display often last season, as Gonye appeared in only six games while being buried on the depth chart. His lone point was a game-winning assist in a 4-3 win at Penn State on Nov. 30, the last game he appeared in.

The Dutchmen coaching staff seemed to prepare for Gonye's absence by bringing in forward Spencer Foo this summer. Foo was originally expected to spend another year with the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Bonnyville Pontiacs before arriving next season.

A team spokesperson said Bennett doesn't plan on addressing roster changes until the Dutchmen's media day on Oct. 3.

Dutchwomen picked 11th in ECAC Hockey

by Ryan Fay

Union was picked 11th in the ECAC Hockey women's preseason coaches poll, the league announced Tuesday.

The Dutchwomen finished in last place in ECACH last season after going 4-18-0.

Harvard was picked to finish first. Cornell, defending NCAA-hockey champion Clarkson, Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence rounded out the top five.

The remainder of the poll had Yale sixth, Princeton seventh, Colgate eighth, Dartmouth ninth, RPI 10th and Brown 12th.

The Dutchwomen were shutout on the league's preseason all-conference team. The team consisted of Cornell forwards Jillian Saulnier and Brianne Jenner, Yale forward Phoebe Staenz, Clarkson defenseman Erin Ambrose, Harvard defenseman Michelle Picard and Harvard goalie Emerance Maschmeyer.

Union opens the regular season Oct. 3 at RIT.

2014-15 ECAC Hockey Women's Preseason Coaches' Poll
Predicted finish - team - first place votes - points
1. Harvard (9) 119
2. Cornell (1) 108
3. Clarkson (2) 101
4. Quinnipiac 95
5. St. Lawrence 80
6. Yale 68
7. Princeton 57
8. Colgate 49
9. Dartmouth 45
10. Rensselaer 38
11. Union 19
12. Brown 13

2014-15 Preseason All-Conference Selections
F Jillian Saulnier, Cornell
F Brianne Jenner, Cornell
F Phoebe Staenz, Yale
D Erin Ambrose, Clarkson
D Michelle Picard, Harvard
G Emerance Maschmeyer, Harvard

Monday, September 15, 2014

Simpson re-signs with Stingrays (with video)

by Ryan Fay

Former Union forward Wayne Simpson re-signed with the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays, the team announced Monday.

Simpson finished second on the Stingrays and led all team rookies last season with 22 goals and 41 points in 66 contests.

“Simpson had a great rookie season,” said Stingrays head coach and Director of Hockey Operations Spencer Carbery. “Once he found his niche in our lineup, you could see he could play. He had a great start to his career. We have big expectations for Wayne. He has to come in and backup last year.”

The Boxborough, Massachuttes native is eager to start his second professional season.

“I can’t wait to get the season going,” Simpson said. “I was playing with good players last season and learned the ropes a bit. I’m always looking to get better and it’s that time of the year to get going again and I’m looking forward to it.”

Simpson recorded 56 goals and 59 assists in 159 games with Union from 2009-2013.

For more comments from Simpson, watch the StingraysTV video below.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Q&A with Dutchwomen recruit Arianna Kosakowski

By Ryan Fay

Winchendon School standout Arianna Kosakowski recently committed to the Union women's hockey team for the 2015-2016 season.

Though typically a defenseman, Kosakowski spent significant time at forward last season. The move paid off, as the 17-year-old ranked sixth in NEPSIHA Independent Girls Hockey with 14 goals and 23 assists in 37 games. It marked a 30 point increase from her sophomore season, when she registered seven assists in 26 games.

The Ashburnham, Massachusetts native talks about the adjustment, the recruiting process, and more.

Ryan Fay (RF): You were used extensively as a forward last season. How much of an adjustment was that?

Arianna Kosakowski (AK): I played forward last year for Winchendon since our forwards weren’t producing. I volunteered to try it out and I played wing while my best friend played center. We really connected and started scoring, which my team was lacking. It was a big adjustment at first. The hardest part was definitely learning how to breakout and forecheck. Once I played a couple of games it was an easy fit. Coming from defense, I would always make the pass instead of shoot myself, which was a difficult adjustment. My line finally fit a groove where I would get a lot of assists since I was used to passing from playing defense.

RF: How do you think that experience as a forward helped your development as a hockey player?

AK: My experience playing forward definitely helped me develop as a hockey player. I became much quicker and it also helped my passes when breaking out of the zone. From playing wing, I realized where the pass needs to be made to make it easier for the wings to break the puck out of the zone. Playing forward also encouraged me to skate the puck a little on defense before making the pass. When I skate the puck, the forwards skate ahead of me and it opens up the ice for an easier pass.

RF: Which position do you see yourself at long-term?

AK: I definitely see myself settling in at defense, but I am always open to play a little forward. I feel comfortable in my position as a defenseman and I really feel that I benefit the team most at making the right decisions on defense.

RF: In addition to hockey, you also play soccer and lacrosse at Winchendon. Did you ever entertain the idea of trying to do more than one sport at the collegiate level? Three Dutchwomen players are also on the golf team.

AK: I am not thinking about continuing soccer or lacrosse at Union. It was hard to give up lacrosse because I was being committed to go Division I for lacrosse and for hockey and I ultimately chose hockey. It will be hard to give up lacrosse, but I enjoy playing it more for fun and not seriously.

RF: What was the recruiting process like and what ultimately led you to Union?

AK: The recruiting process was very simple for me. I had already narrowed down my college list before entering my junior year. I chose schools first based on academics and then based on the hockey program. Since my goal is to become an orthopedic surgeon, I needed to find a school with stellar academics. Union was at the top of my list, so when they showed their interest I was very happy.

I really like [Dutchwomen] head coach [Claudia Asano] Barcomb and all of the girls that I met on the team. Union is a small college with not many students in each class. That is very similar to Winchendon, where the most students in my class are around eight. This similarity will make for an easy transition. I especially like the hockey program and I know that all the coaches are dedicated to the players and want them to improve while also having a successful season.

RF: What led you to want to persue a career in orthopedic surgery?

AK: Since I was little I have always enjoyed going to the doctor. When I was 12, I made the doctor a ten page long list of questions I had about the human body. Since then I have been always interested in how the human body functions and especially want to learn about bones. Orthopedic surgeons specialize in bones, which is what I'm interested in. Also, I've always wanted to be a doctor in sports medicine and orthopedic surgeons can specialize in sports medicine.

RF: What did the Dutchwomen staff like about you?

AK: The Union staff liked my decision-making and my ability to win odd man rushes. I believe that they see me filling in the role as a solid defenseman and relying on me not to be the cause of any goals.

What are a few things about your game that you are hoping to refine before arriving at Union?

AK: I am hoping to improve my overall game before coming to Union. I will work on strengthening my shot and making it more accurate. I will also work on my quickness and making faster decisions on the ice. I will keep training on the ice and off the ice so I can improve everything by next year.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dutchwomen pick up two commitments

by Ryan Fay

The Gopher State has been good to the Union women's hockey program lately.

The Dutchwomen picked up two commitments from the Minnesota prep ranks this week, Hill-Murray School senior goaltender Leah Patrick and Breck School junior forward Cheyenne Harris.

Patrick, who committed for the 2015-2016 season, backstopped Hill-Murray to its first Minnesota girls hockey state title last season. Including the postseason, she appeared in 30 games, going 22-2-1 with 1.25 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage and seven shutouts. The Hudson, Wisconsin native will serve as one of the team's captains this season.

With Union senior starting goaltender Shenae Lundberg set to graduate next spring, Patrick could have a chance to make an impact early in her collegiate career.

"Leah has many great attributes that will make her a successful college goaltender," said Hill-Murray girls varsity hockey head coach Bill Schafhauser. "She is a good-sized kid who fills the net really well. Her poise and positioning along with her size sets her up very well for not only the first shot but rebounds as well. Technically, she is excellent. She's very efficient in her moves; she almost makes it look effortless.

"She is a very calm, responsible player and person, which bodes well for her at the college level. She handles pressure well and maintains a good disposition -- not too high, not too low. Leah is a super hard worker and as she gets stronger and adjusts to the speed of the college game she will elevate her game as well."

The 17-year-old played alongside another 2015-2016 Dutchwomen commit, forward Jacyn Reeves, on Team Wisconsin during the 2013 USA Hockey Youth Nationals.

Harris had six goals and nine assists in 24 games for Breck last season. She spent time in USA Hockey's Girls Select U18 camp earlier this summer, and is the Dutchwomen's first commitment for the 2016-2017 season.

Breck girls varsity hockey head coach Ronda Engelhardt said there's a lot to like about the 16-year-old.

"She has good speed," Engelhardt said, adding that "she's like a horse out there, just strong and powerful. She makes things happen, and she's good at using her teammates."

Harris, who hails from Centerville, Minnesota, has the potential to develop into an all-around player at Union.

"I think she can be a strong force, someone who is offensive but makes strong plays defensively as well," Engelhardt said.