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2021-22 NCAA Preview: Hockey East, part 2

How five of the teams in Hockey East look this season

Providence Athletics

Providence

Key Losses

  • Chloe Gonsalves, D — Transferred to UConn as a graduate student, anchored the Friars’ blue line with 38 blocked shots in 2020-21
  • Chloe McNeil, F — Transferred to RIT, saw action in 11 games for the Huskies but was kept off the scoresheet

Key Returners

  • Sara Hjalmarsson, Sr., F — Led the team in points (5-12—17) and SOG (69)
  • Brooke Becker, So., F — Finished third on the team with 14 points as a freshman in 2020-21
  • Sandra Abstreiter, Gr., G — Started 21 games for the Huskies, averaged 2.50 GA and a .929 SV%

Season Outlook

Providence had a really strong outing during the 2020-21 regular and postseasons. Though their offense wasn’t as potent as it has historically been, the squad still managed to score at a rate of more than two goals per game. That being said, they do need to work on shoring up their defense, as their blue line was ranked seventh in Hockey East at the end of the regular season, having allowed 46 goals in just 21 games.

The loss of defender Chloe Gonsalves to UConn is going to be a tough blow to recover from. However, getting Sandra Abstreiter back for another year in net means that the Friars have a little bit of leeway when it comes to their back end. Abstreiter has been ridiculously solid between the pipes and there’s no reason to question her mentality or her skill after her performance in Calgary this past August.

UConn

Key Losses

  • Camryn Wong, D — Centralizing with Team China, tallied five points as a junior and registered 28 blocked shots, good for second on the team
  • Tia Chan, G — Centralizing with Team China, 10 GS as a freshman, averaged 1.49 GA and a .947 SV%
  • Savannah Bouzide, F — Transferred out of the NCAA to U SPORTS, led the Huskies with six goals and 14 points in 2020-21

Key Returners/Additions

  • Summer-Rae Dobson, Gr., F — Transfer from Mercyhurst, accumulated 86 points through 125 GP with the Lakers
  • Natalie Snodgrass, Gr., F — Registered a team-high 99 SOG to go with 10 points through 19 GP
  • Taylor Wabick, Gr., D — Registered a team-high 38 blocks and four assists in 2020-21
  • Viki Harkness, Sr., F — Tallied most assists on the team (11) and was tied for the points lead in 2020-21
  • Jada Habisch, So., F — Finished third on the Huskies in scoring as a freshman (!!!) with 11 points in 19 games

Season Outlook

UConn’s blue line was locked and loaded in 2020-21, allowing the third fewest goals in Hockey East at 37. Part of that strength can be attributed to the defensive prowess of players like Taylor Wabick and Camryn Wong, who combined for nearly 70 blocked shots while also making an impact on the score sheet. The squad’s special teams were firmly in the middle of the pack, coming in at fifth in the league in power play conversions (12.7%) and penalty kills (88.1%).

Three of the biggest losses for the Huskies are those of Savannah Bouzide, the team’s leading scorer in 2020-21, and Camryn Wong and Tia Chan, both of whom are Chinese heritage players and have joined the ZhHL’s KRS Vanke Rays in preparation for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. While UConn’s blue line is, admittedly, strengthened by the return of graduate student Taylor Wabick, they’re going to have to work hard to fill the voids in the back end left by Wong and Chan.

Maine

Key Losses

  • Liga Miljone, F - 28 points in 27 games in 2019-20, out due to concussion issues

Key Returners

  • Loryn Porter, G - 2020-21 Goaltender of the Year Finalist, 1.49 goals against average
  • Ida Kuoppala, F - Averages nearly a point per game in NCAA career, top scorer last season
  • Rahel Enzler, F - Led the team in assists last season
  • Celine Tedenby, F - Tied for third in points last season

Season Outlook

Maine finished solidly in the middle of the pack last season, 5th out of 10 teams. There’s a good chance this season sees them in a similar position. After the top three teams in Hockey East, it’s really wide open. Maine has some depth but the issue will lay in goal scoring. They only scored 27 goals last season, third worst in the conference. Ten of those goals came from a single player - Kuoppala too. If Maine wants to move up the table, they’ll need more scoring from more players.

Vermont

Key Returners

  • Jessie McPherson, G - Last season’s Hockey East Rookie of the Year, .938 save percentage
  • Corinne McCool, F - Leading goal scorer last season
  • Maude Poulin-Labelle, D - Led the team in assists and points last season
  • Sini Karjalainen, D - Returning assistant captain, experience with Finland’s National Team
  • Sara Levesque, D - Led the team in blocks last season

Season Outlook

Similar to Maine, where Vermont falls here is so up in the air because of the conference itself. They are truly buoyed by McPherson in net and Poulin-Labelle on the blue line.

New Hampshire

Key Returners

  • Ava Boutilier, G - .914 save percentage and five shutouts last season
  • Jada Christian, F - Leading goal scorer last season, second on the team in 19-20
  • Nicole Kelly, F - Team leader in points last season
  • Lauren Martin, F - Tied for first in goals, second in points
  • Maddie Truax, D - Blocked 49 shots
  • Emily Rickwood, D - Led all defenders in assists last season, 59 blocks
  • Charli Kettyle, D - Led all defenders in goals and points

Season Outlook

UNH let in 62 goals over the few games they played. That’s less than ideal. Boutilier is a solid senior goaltender but they’ll need her to step up a little more. Bringing back their top two shot blocking defenders should help though.