Another season is in the books for the Oswego State women’s ice hockey club team and the whole group could not be more pleased with how it went.
The team suffered only two losses in a season of more than 20 games.
One could say the most proud of them is head coach Jon Zella, a graduate of Oswego State. Zella has a love for the game that is hard to match, but what he loves most about coaching is not just improving the skill level of the players.
“I’d like to see them grow as people, as individuals,” Zella said.
On top of coaching, Zella also works full-time at the Onondaga Historical Association Museum and Research Center and has other roles at Oswego State that include working for the Shineman Foundation as the community outreach coordinator.
His players understand the commitment he puts in to coaching, with late-night practices and games every weekend, the team is always busy, but Zella is always there for the team.
For the players, one of the keys to why this season went so well was goalie Madisyn Whalen who took over the position after their starting goalie went down with an injury at the beginning of the season. Whalen, who is a graduate of Oswego High School, stepped up big between the pipes all season long.
Freshman defender Shannon Moran believes a team plays with more confidence when it can trust its goalie.
That confidence seemed to be evident right from the start of the season. Moran was surprised at how quickly the team was able to come together.
“I think that’s why we had such great success at the beginning of the season because we clicked right from the start,” Moran said.
The interesting part of playing on a club team is that the captains are leaders on the ice and as an E-Board as well as an E-board that has to run things from a management perspectative.
Defender Sabrina Edwards was the captain this year. Zella said having her help in practices leading warm-ups, as well as being a leader on the ice was helpful. In terms of club management, senior Karissa Favata was the president in the fall semester. She held that position until she graduated in December. That is when senior Maeghan Roberts took over for her.
Zella saw Roberts as a great person to provide structure on the ice as there are a lot of things to keep in order that go on outside the hockey rink. So much so that Roberts and Favata were the ones who actually formed the team’s schedule over the summer.
Moran was a little nervous when Favata left, but she trusted Roberts as a leader. Moran and Roberts grew up together in Buffalo and were close friends.
The number of skilled players on the team was another strength. Zella said each of the offensive and defensive lines played solid. They also have a lot of players that complement each other well.
“This is the best group I can remember as far as coming together as a team,” Zella said.
The skill can be attributed to the notoriety of the Div. III program drawing players to the college for club as well. Its great play, along with the rich tradition of the men’s Div. III team, has led to the gains in men and women interested in the sport of ice hockey.
Zella admitted when he was deciding where to go to college, the men’s Div. III team had won the National Championship in 2007 and that alone had an impact on him choosing Oswego State.
Roberts, who has seen the progression of the Div. III women’s team in the last four years, believes as it has gotten better it has made the club team better as well.
The club team also sometimes gains players who suffer an injury and can no longer play at the varsity level, or do not earn a spot on the team. Those players bring a lot of talent at the club level.
But, no matter where they are coming from, the love for this game can be found in every single player. They put a lot into being apart of the team, despite dealing with the tough schedule of working around their personal lives.
“Hockey brings so many different types of people together,” Moran said.
This shared love of the game leads to blossoming friendships. Something that Moran, Roberts and freshman winger Jill Martin can all agree is one of the best parts of being in the club.
Those friendships lead to great chemist. Roberts believes it is rare to have such a bond throughout an entire team, but, when it exists it can lead to great success.
Looking back, Roberts is glad she decided to play for the club team. She played throughout her entire childhood but was not really sure she was going to play at the college club level. But, having that separate life outside of the typical college life was great to be a part of.
Roberts will have many memories from her time being a part of the club. But, when it comes to play on the ice, the best one might have come in her last game when she scored her first career goal for the team.
Though Roberts’ time might be over on the club, there are still many more memories to be made for the rest of the girls, including Moran and Martin who still have three years left. They look to continue the tradition the club has built up around them.