Ephs prime for strong winter season

Women’s ice hockey is heading into a new season with high hopes, having ended last season with a NESCAC quarterfinal bid. Closing out the 2011-12 season with a record of 11-1, 7-9 in the NESCAC, the Ephs hope to climb from last year’s fifth-place conference finish to become one of the top teams in the NESCAC.

Although the team graduated five seniors last season, the women are looking to a promising set of returners and seven rookies to pick up where last year’s graduates left off. Not only are the Ephs returning almost all of their top scorers, with the exception of Kristen Tubbs ’12, but they have gained new depth in the three rookie defenders – Talia Simon ’16, Abby Belcrest ’16 and Hadley Desmules ’16 – as well as three first-year forwards – Lexie Brackenridge ’16, Natalie Bernstein ’16 and Eliza Noyes ’16. Additionally, Michaela Levine ’16 hopes to return to play from a knee injury in January.

Williams returns two goalies, Chloe Billadeau ’15 and Rachel Nguyen ’14. Co-captains Sam Weinstein ’13 and Aimee Dennett ’13 and assistant captain Cristina Bravi ’14 will lead the Ephs’ squad this year.

“Aimee [Dennett] and Sam [Weinstein] have tireless work ethics on the ice, and this factor is key in their strong leadership,” Head Coach Meghan Gillis said. “The two senior captains serve as mentors, and the younger classes will look to them for guidance and support as we move forward.”

Looking forward to the upcoming season, the team is in shape and already focusing on system play, Gillis said. The women are excited to take on such heated rivals as Bowdoin, who knocked them out of the NESCAC tournament last season.

“We are so excited for this weekend,” Weinstein said. “We have been working hard and preparing for so long and can’t wait to finally be able to just go play. The team is looking great, and I am really looking forward to the season starting.”

Beginning its season this weekend with a doubleheader at Wesleyan, Williams hopes to start the season with a bang.  Last season, the women came out of its games against Wesleyan 1-1. The women will play their first game in Middletown, Conn., at 7 p.m. on Friday before returning to the ice for a 3 p.m. matchup on Saturday.