SCHENECTADY – When Union College’s women’s hockey team takes to the ice at RIT on Friday night, it will be the Dutch women’s first game in 587 days.
Union head coach Josh Siba is expecting a lot of enthusiasm and nervous energy. The Dutchwoman last played against Cornell on February 22, 2020, after the union’s 2020-21 season was canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I know I’ve joked before that I think we’re doing something in the first five minutes,” said union head coach Josh Siba, who begins his sixth season with the Dutch Women. “I don’t know what it’s going to be, but we’re probably going to take penalties. We’re going to do something because our energy is going to be off the charts.
“I think they’re magnified. They’re ready to play. I think they’re hungry to play, hungry to compete. If you look at our preseason, we’ve been more competitive the first few weeks. I think our roster is the deepest ever. Again, with that hunger and the passion that they have to play, I’m excited to see how we perform.”
“I would say we are all very excited to get on the ice,” said senior forward Katie Sonntag. “Last year, I think, reminded us how much it takes us to be able to play. Taking that away really puts a lot of things into perspective. Finally getting back on the ice this year is exactly that. Yes, this is the first game we can do [play] I don’t know for how long. . . . I’m so excited. I have to play again on Friday. I think we’re really hypnotized.”
Dutch women’s senior forward Grace Hetting concurred.
“A lot of enthusiasm, obviously,” said Heiting, who was the union’s leading scorer in 2019-20 with six goals and eight assists. “I know our seniors, in particular, have been looking forward to this for a long time. Lots of emotion and pure enthusiasm. I think just getting out there and doing your job and not letting it get to you too much, It’s going to be exciting for all of us.”
One exciting thing that Dutch women hope to achieve is to create an ECAC hockey tournament. Since beginning to play NCAA Division I hockey in 2003–04, the union has never reached the ECACH postseason.
Most of the time, Dutch women have finished last in the conference. The last time they played in 2019-20, they finished ninth, their best finish ever.
The Dutch woman had a legal shot at making the eight-team ECACH tournament that season. After a 2–0 win over RPi in the Mayer’s Cup game on January 25, 2020, Dutch women finished seventh, but lost their last seven games of the season.
In this year’s ECACH Coaches Precision Poll, Union was selected to finish 10th.
“For us, it’s just teaching our group to win,” Saiba said. “When we get to Fridays and Saturdays, obviously, that becomes the culmination of everything that we keep doing week after week and day after day,” Saiba said. “I’m trying to teach my group how to win in different situations, how to make plays in certain areas that can lead to winning conditions [and] how to give them the mindset that they believe they can win, that they can beat [the] Top teams in the league. Finding ways to win some of those one-goal games we found ourselves in quite a bit in the ’19-20 season. So just teaching your group how to win is pretty much what we need and that mindset is going to be the big thing that gets us over that hump.
“I think we’re a playoff team.”
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