When I first started looking into the NEC women’s ice hockey program, they had a tough losing season. With a season record of 1-23-1, I knew this team would need a lot of work and dedication. I had come from a new ice hockey program team at my high school, so I understood that winning comes with time.

When I first arrived on campus for my freshman year, the girls on the team were so welcoming and I immediately felt like a part of another family. Although, with every family comes their problems, and NECWIH definitely had some. Our main and obvious problem was that we could not win, and other problems stemmed off of that. Even as the season began as a freshman, the losses started to pile up, and the frustration grew. Unlike some of the other girls on the team, I chose to take my anger out on trying harder and blaming myself for not making enough of a difference. Others chose to point fingers and cause issues between each other.

After having some time away from each other at Christmas, we came back and were a completely new team. Something happened to all of us, and we all decided to work together and not blame one another. Our season took a huge turn in the winning direction. We ended up making it to playoffs that year as the 8th place team out of a total of 8 teams, and we played the number one seed in our league, Norwich University. The last few times we had played them we had lost by a lot, a total blowout. Obviously, the initial first reaction was “well that’s it, our season is basically over,” while others had the “we can do it” attitude. After seeing how our team had already made a huge change towards winning, the idea of beating Norwich became more possible.

After this realization, we began changing all of our systems and adjusting to how we could approach Norwich and catch them off guard. That game was the longest, most hard-fought game I had ever seen NECWIH play in, till this day as a senior. We ended up taking Norwich to a 0-0 game all the way to the last three minutes of the game. First and second period, scoreless. Until the final few minutes when Norwich caught us off guard on a face-off. The center dropped the puck back, the winger came in and got a quick shot off on our goalie, and they scored.

Although we had lost and our season was over, I felt like that game was a win for us. We proved to ourselves and others that we did have the skill and the talent to take us there. Finishing off the season with a record of 8-17-1, I was still proud to be a part of that team.

Going into my sophomore year, I expected my season to be just like the Norwich game. It was nothing like that. It was like we had a lost everything that was turning us in the right direction. That season dragged on, and felt like the beginning of my freshman year. Negative attitudes and fingers being pointed at others for them being the reason for losing. Our 5-19-1 record really showed that we had lost our spark.

My junior year season ended with the worst record I’d seen, but I felt we made progress. That year was a huge change for all of us. We got a new coach, so in my book we got a new team, and it sure felt that way. Getting used to all the new changes and accepting them was definitely the hardest part, but having your team there next to you the whole time really made the process better. Our record was 2-22-2 when we ended the season, but regardless of the numbers, that spark I felt freshman year during the Norwich game had come back in glimpses.

Going into my final season, I hope that spark turns into a flame. I want this final season to be the best one yet, regardless of what the record is. I want to feel like we left it all out on the ice and instead of letting them take it away from us in the final minutes like Norwich did, I want to be the team that takes it away from another team in the final minutes. I want people to look at our team and think “wow they really turned it on this year.”

Little glimpses of that familiar spark have shown up a few times, on and off the ice during preseason. I am hoping once we start putting in the work together with Coach, something just clicks. Going into my final season I don’t want any regrets. Thinking back to my freshman year even though it was over and we had lost, we still had each other, and to me that was a win. That’s how I want this season to end. I want it to be a win overall, no matter how many wins we actually get.

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Katie is a senior Communication Studies student at New England College focusing on public relations. When she is not in class or writing for The New Englander, you can find her in the ice rink where she plays for the women's ice hockey team.
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