By David F. Pendrys
Any hockey team, like a fine Korean BBQ dish, comes with many flavors that all put together result in the entree. The Connecticut Whale through its existence has been, not illogically, flavored with Quinnipiac Bobcats. Some of the faces have changed, some have stayed the same. The Whale recently signed Kelly Babstock to her third year with the team, and she re-joins Cydney Roesler for a second year.
Now the Whale have signed Sydney Rossman, the storied goaltender from up on York Hill. The 2016 ECAC Goaltender of the Year, and a finalist for player of the year. Based on current data available from Quinnipiac Athletics, She is QU’s school record holder in Goals Against Average (.90 in ’16) Shutouts (sharing the honor with Chelsea Laden) with 16 also set in the ’16 season. She also has the program record of 30 wins from ’16. She also has the career save percentage mark of .946 and Goals Against Average mark of .95. She broke QU the career shutout record notching 26 and has the program record for consecutive minutes shutting out an opponent.
The 15-16 campaign was a great success for Quinnipiac, though the year that followed would not be as strong. QU’s Coach Cassandra Turner early on noted the team had graduated a lot of leaders (Including the Whale’s Roesler, Nicole Connery, and Nicole Kosta) and the Bobcats were one of the best teams in a tight ECAC but ultimately beaten out by several other teams. All the same Rossman posted 18 wins, a 1.45 Goals Against Average (1st in the ECAC) and a .929 save percentage (4th in the ECAC.) This in a league with strong goaltenders like Steph Neatby, Shea Tiley, Grace Harrison, Paula Voorheis among others. She backstopped a team that led the ECAC with 1.3 goals against in a conference of scorers.
Rossman’s position on one of the top teams in the country put her up against a great many challenges including out of conference dangerous squads like Boston College, Boston University, Mercyhurst, and the like. And of course the ECAC is where frequent national champion Clarkson resides. Suffice it to say, Rossman is seasoned.
Presuming Rossman earns a spot in game action she will have her former Captain in Roesler on point for her. If the Whale sign players back like Connery and Kosta, there will be more familiar faces who come from that Quinnipiac scheme. Or alternatively if the Whale acquire more QU alums.
In a league which doesn’t have a lot of practices, or a lot of games for that matter, the chemistry that already exists between the QU products may be a valuable quantity if it can truly be harnessed. Which I mean is clearly not a new idea, chemisty… Nonetheless it may be especially essential for the Whale. Naturally the Whale will try to assemble the best team possible from who is available, but a larger cadre of Turner trained players in one place might be a foundation the Whale sorely needs.
The Whale of last season did not lack talent, but somehow things didn’t entirely come together despite the speed of their National Team players, Babstock’s resourcefulness, Kosta’s gritty chicanery, and beyond.
Plus a well established QU pipeline may help lure future QU graduates like Melissa Samoskevich and T.T. Cianfarano, both with national program experience, to the fold. Samoskevich especially is from CT, though Cianfarano, from Oswego, New York may find Buffalo trying to earn her services. Though they could also not pursue the NWHL at all. But if they did. It might help to have a growing hive of Bobcats.
Shenae Lundberg and Nicole Stock had some games which did not look great on the stat line, though on the other hand, the Boston Pride especially could decimate any team they faced, excepting the Riveters at times, and the Beauts in the Isobel Cup Finals. The results didn’t seem to match the talent and skill of the two goalies. It’s hard to know if the two return, whether they or Rossman will gain the nod. But that’s speculation. Rossman could be the spark in net the team needs though.