2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Colgate Raiders

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Greg Fargo (4th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Katelyn Parker (C), Cat Quirion (C), Annika Zalewski (C)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 7-25-2 (4-16-2 ECAC/10th place)
ECAC Postseason: Did not qualify

Colgate was looking to make a splash last season with some skilled newcomers aboard, and they put up a decent fight in their first few games. The Raiders fell to Syracuse to start the year, but then split with Robert Morris and came away with a win against Providence in a pair of games against the Friars and UConn. The team had a difficult time after that as it began ECAC competition, losing its next five games, including to conference foes Quinnipiac, Princeton, and Yale. A 4-3 overtime win over Brown snapped the losing streak.

The Raiders failed to build any momentum from that, however, and fell into another losing streak, which this time lasted seven games. They were swept by Mercyhurst and Vermont in non-conference action, and also lost to Clarkson, St. Lawrence, and Cornell. Colgate then won two of its next four games, taking down Syracuse and Brown and losing to Clarkson and St. Lawrence again.

After dropping their next two to Yale and Harvard, the Raiders then put together a three-game unbeaten streak to close out January, beating Dartmouth and Rensselaer and tying with Union. Unfortunately after that, the team fell into another slide and could not pull out another win for the rest of the season. They lost six of their last seven games of 2014-15, earning a 2-2 tie against Union in their second-to-last contest of the year.

Meet the Newcomers

G Megan Dubois, Shattuck-St. Mary’s

Dubois helped SSM to a national championship in 2012-13 as an assistant captain, and then to national runner-up finishes in each of the last two seasons.

Coach Fargo on Dubois (via GoColgateRaiders.com):

“Megan is a goaltender that brings a wealth of high quality youth hockey experience with her. Her Shattuck St. Mary’s team has enjoyed plenty of success while she was a part of that program. She’s performed well in big games including winning a national championship at the U-16 level. She’s an athletic goaltender that is positionally sound. She will add depth to our goaltending position we expect to very strong [sic].”

G Julia Vandyk, Cambridge Rivulettes, Preston H.S.

Vandyk, a four-time MVP at Preston (Ontario), was also a captain for the Rivulettes in 2014-15. She was named to the 2013-14 WRDSB Girls Hockey All-Star Team and helped Team Ontario take home silver at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

Coach Fargo on Vandyk (via GoColgateRaiders.com):

“Julia is a [sic] extremely hard working goaltender who takes her craft very seriously. She is competitive, yet poised in the net and is technically very strong. She’s coming off another outstanding year in the PWHL. Her experience playing against Canada’s best at different points in her career should give her plenty of confidence as she transitions to the college game.”

D Chelsea Jacques, Madison Capitols, Keweenaw Storm

Jacques spent three seasons with the Storm 19U team before joining the Capitols 19U squad in 2014-15. A captain with Keweenaw and an assistant with Madison, she was a four-time MAHA state champion and three-time national runner-up during her time with the Storm.

Coach Fargo on Jacques (via GoColgateRaiders.com):

“Chelsea is another extremely hard working, committed person, player and student that comes from a hockey family. She’s a steady, two-way defenseman that has a ton of upside to her game. She brings a very strong base of ability that we are excited to work with and help her reach her maximize. She’s a strong good skater, she defends well and likes to start and join the rush. Chelsea sees the ice well and will help limit time in our end.”

D Olivia Zafuto, The Nichols School, Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles

Zafuto is a three-time CISSA champion and a four-time NAPHA champion. She was the MVP for Nichols (N.Y.) as a senior this past season, and also captured Western NY Scholar-Athlete Honorable Mention honors in 2015 to go along with her two All-NAPHA First Team selections.

Coach Fargo on Zafuto (via GoColgateRaiders.com):

“Olivia comes to us having experience playing both defense and forward. She’s been a leader and contributor at every level she’s played at. I believe Olivia is committed to taking her game to the next level and I am excited to help her reach her potential. She is a smooth skater with a tremendous skill set that allows her to make great plays at both ends of the rink. We expect Olivia to contribute both offensively and defensively.”

F Shae Labbe, Canadian Under-18 Team, Warner Warriors

Labbe helped Canada to a silver medal at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championships in January, and won a bronze medal with Team Alberta at the 2015 Canada Winter Games as well this season. Skating for the Warner Warriors of the JWHL, she racked up a series of accolades, including a First Team All-Star nod and recognition as the Liz Turgeon Player of the Year, to go along with the team’s JWHL championship. She also received JWHL Second Team All-Star honors in 2014 and captained the team this past season. Labbe was a member of Team Alberta at the 2013 Canadian Women’s National Under-18 Championships, where the province again took home bronze.

Coach Fargo on Labbe (via GoColgateRaiders.com):

“Shae is another player coming off a great season and we anticipate her diving right in here at Colgate. She led the JWHL in points per game and was named the Player of the Year in the league. In addition to her year in Warner, she gained valuable experience and played a big role with Hockey Canada at the U18 Championships in Buffalo, NY. She will add size, strength and toughness. Shae loves to shoot the puck and has a great release. Shae will be an impact player for us next season.”

F Jessie Eldridge, Toronto Jr. Aeros, The Bishop Strachan School

Eldridge captained the Jr. Aeros this past season and was the Provincial Women’s Hockey League’s scoring champion in 2015. At Bishop Strachan (Ontario), she was a two-time MVP for the team. She was invited to attend Canada’s Under-18 Strength & Conditioning Camp in 2014.

Coach Fargo on Eldridge (via GoColgateRaiders.com):

“Jessie is coming off a season where she won the PWHL scoring title. She is another right shot-forward, who is a very smart player and will add skill and ability to our group. She’s strong on the boards and very crafty in small areas. She’s excellent around the net, sees the ice well and makes others around her better. Jessie does a lot of subtle things that make a big difference in a hockey game.”

F Bailey Larson, U.S. Under-18 Select Team, Chicago Mission

Larson earned a spot on the U.S. Under-18 squad back in August of 2013 for a three-game series against Canada, and has spent the past several seasons with the Chicago Mission. She won four Illinois state championships and four Central District championships with the team, and this past season she helped the Mission to the 2015 national title.

Coach Fargo on Larson (via GoColgateRaiders.com):

“Bailey is a very talented forward who plays hard all over the ice and has a real knack around the net. Bailey loves a challenge and loves to compete. She’s going to fit in very well to our system and how we play. She helped her team win a national championship this year and she has international experience wearing the USA Hockey jersey. All these traits and experiences will help allow Bailey to have an immediate impact on our team.”

F Shannon Ormel, Balmoral Hall

At Balmoral Hall (Manitoba), Ormel was a two-year assistant captain. She skated for Team Manitoba at the 2015 Canada Winter Games as well.

Coach Fargo on Ormel (via GoColgateRaiders.com):

“Shannon is another great addition to our program. She is determined to maximize her potential, she takes pride in her game and is extremely committed to her strength and conditioning. She is a good skater, never afraid of physical play and is great on face-offs. Shannon has worked very hard at different aspects of her game and I believe she will continue to thrive here at Colgate.”

2015-16 Season Preview

Key Departures: F Melissa Kueber, F Miriam Drubel, F Taylor Craig, D Katie Case
Key Returners: F Breanne Wilson-Bennett, F Annika Zalewski, F Megan Sullivan, D Lauren Wildfang
Key Additions: F Shae Labbe, F Bailey Larson, F Jessie Eldridge, D Chelsea Jacques, D Olivia Zafuto, G Julia Vandyk

With a talented incoming class last season, Colgate had fairly high hopes as a team, with the expectation being that they would at least see some improvements. But injuries struck three of those promising freshmen, and the club ended up having the worst year record-wise in program history. If they can stay healthy this year, they should at the very least finally see that improvement. They’re adding even more talent for this season, and those younger players will look to contribute right away as well, hopefully bolstering the group overall and adding more competitiveness to the squad.

The losses of Melissa Kueber and Miriam Drubel hurt, as they were two of the team’s top-four scorers last season. But Breanne Wilson-Bennett was one of those highly-touted rookies coming in, and she did not disappoint, leading the team in scoring with 18 points. She should be a major factor for Colgate again this year, and will hopefully be even better in terms of production. Megan Sullivan and Shelby Perry also had promising rookie seasons and will look to be even more involved in the offense. Classmate Annika Zalewski was limited to just 19 games, but she still came up with 10 points. Freshman Shae Labbe, a Canadian U18 alum, should chip in right away, and fellow rookies Bailey Larson and Jessie Eldridge should be able to make some things happen as well.

Top Canadian U18 defender Lauren Wildfang was one of the highlights of last year’s incoming class, but she was injured and skated in only 21 games herself. She should return as an impact player as a sophomore, and the Raiders are hoping for her to be a leader on the blue line. Katie Case’s leadership will be missed; she led the team in defensemen scoring last year with 11 assists. But senior Nicole Gass is poised to take on a bigger leadership role, as is junior Cat Quirion; they were two of Colgate’s most reliable players in the defensive end last season. Sophomore Kaila Pinkney should contribute in a top-four role if she stays healthy, and junior Hannah Rastrick is on the border there. Freshmen Olivia Zafuto and Chelsea Jacques should be solid depth options this year as well.

The most uncertainty for Colgate heading into the year is at the goaltending position, but it’s not necessarily a question of who it’ll be, just what they’ll get from her. Senior Ashlynne Rando had her best season in 2014-15, posting an acceptable .916 save percentage to go along with a 2.53 goals-against average. But if the team really wants to move up in the ECAC standings, they won’t just be looking for acceptable. Incoming freshman Julia Vandyk could push her for some time, but I think Rando will continue to hold the starting position.

The Raiders will be icing a very young team this season, with 15 freshmen and sophomores. The bulk of their top-six is going to be made up of their younger players with higher ceilings, while the defense will have a bit more veteran experience with Gass and Quirion. Developing the offense is going to be the biggest thing for Colgate, who ranked second-to-last in the ECAC in goals per game last season with just 1.59. Defensively, the Raiders managed pretty well, ranking in the top half of the conference in shots on goal against per game at 29.47, but more of the focus this season will be on moving the puck up more efficiently to ease the transition to offense. If they can get the most out of their talent despite their youth, and consistency in net from Rando, they should find themselves higher up in the standings by season’s end.

Schedule Highlights

Oct. 2-3 vs. Robert Morris
Oct. 23-24 at Merrimack
Oct. 30 vs. Union
Nov. 7 at Princeton
Nov. 13 at RIT
Nov. 14 vs. RIT
Nov. 17 at Cornell
Nov. 24-25 vs. Mercyhurst
Dec. 4 at Clarkson
Dec. 5 at St. Lawrence
Jan. 8 at Dartmouth
Jan. 9 at Harvard
Jan. 12 vs. Cornell
Jan. 16 vs. Yale
Jan. 29 at RPI
Feb. 13 at Brown
Feb. 20 vs. Dartmouth

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