Rams make it to national club championship quarter-finals
KINGSTON, R.I. – March 10, 2009 – Beth McCann has had her fill of just reaching the final four in the women’s national ice hockey club championship.
It’s not that the head coach of the University of Rhode Island women’s ice hockey team is against reaching the final round again this year. But after having been among the four finalists in each of the last five years, the Westerly resident is hoping her team is ready to seize championship glory.
“This team believes in itself and it has the tools to accomplish something special in a few weeks at the national championships,” McCann said. “We have a great group of parents that normally travel with us and we’re hoping to have our Rhody (student) crazies up there. But they’ll have to wait until the semifinals because they can’t miss classes.”
The team has accomplished a great deal already. Just a little over a week ago, the Rams captured their sixth straight Eastern Collegiate Women’s Hockey League title with 4-1 wins over the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
The Rams hope to carry momentum from that title to the Division 1 American Collegiate Hockey Association’s championship tourney in Rochester, N.Y. March 12 through 15. The ACHA is the national organization for collegiate club hockey. Ranked No. 1 in the east by the ACHA and No. 3 nationally, Rhody is seeded third in the nationals with a 19-3-3 overall record. McCann and her charges are also optimistic about their chances in the national tourney because they open against Liberty University, a team Rhody beat 3-2 and 3-1 during the regular season.
“We’ve been a bridesmaid for five years in a row,” McCann said. “We have what we need to succeed at the nationals, but we also have a young squad with eight freshmen. We also have two seniors who’ve been to the final four and they know what it takes to make it to semifinals and the finals.”
The two seniors are Ashley Pagliarini, of Cranston, and Kate Garcia, of Scituate. Garcia had a goal against Penn State in the semifinal round of the eastern championship. “Ashley and Kate bring experience that will definitely benefit us at the national tournament,” McCann said.
Two junior forwards, Jolene Rambone of Burrillville, and Justine Ducie of Sandwich, Mass. have combined to generate plenty of offense for the Rams. Also on offense, two freshmen have become standouts this season, Johanna Leskinen of Finland and Meghan Birnie of Mansfield, Mass. Freshman Daria Olink of North Providence has been a key part of the Rams’ outstanding defense.
Sophomore goalie Nina Goncarovs of Clayton, N.C. was solid throughout the year. Other defensive leaders for the Rams are sophomores Amanda Tassoni of Smithfield and Emily Gasper of Chelmsford, Mass. and junior Jennifer Bragger of East Greenwich, a transfer from Division 1 Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.
“ We have some of the best hockey players in New England here, and they really are very talented. One of the reasons we are thriving is because of our players’ hard work and dedication,” McCann said.
Other members of the team and their hometowns are:
Bridget Honsey, Junior, Cumberland
Danielle DiCeglie, Sophomore, New Canaan, Conn.
Jessica Morgrillo, Freshman, Hamden, Conn.
Nicole Ouellette, Junior, Randolph, Mass.
Danika Korpacz, Freshman , West Greenwich
Rebecca Manning, Freshman, Brick, N.J.
Kelsey Joseph, Freshman, Pawtucket
Rachel MacDonald, Sophomore, North Smithfield
Caroline Greene, Sophomore, East Greenwich
Michelle Paquin, Junior, Warwick
Christina Ferencevych, Junior, Riverdale, N.J.
Chelsea Keach, Freshman, Burrillville
CHAMPIONS AGAIN: Members of the University of Rhode Island women’s hockey team pose at the Boss Arena. The team won its sixth straight Eastern Collegiate Women’s Hockey League title recently, and begin play for the women’s national Division I club title this week in Rochester, N.Y.