Monday, 13 November 2017

Highest Ever

If you've been listening to The Hockey Show since the hockey season started, you know a late-summer chat with Krista Patronick sold me on cheering for the Colgate Raiders women's hockey team. I used to be a UND Fighting Hawks fan, but the school's canceling of the women's hockey program and the garbage treatment of the players through the ordeal caused me to look elsewhere in terms of my fandom. While I'm still a fan of the UND players - Kristen Campbell is tearing it up with Wisconsin! - Krista's convincing me to cheer for Colgate made me into a Raiders fan.

All season, the Colgate Raiders have defied the odds in beating some good teams. They have climbed steadily through the national rankings, and today it was announced that they had reached a new height in being named the third-ranked team in the NCAA, the highest ranking the program has ever achieved! That's a heckuvan accomplishment for the Raiders in this season!

A few names might be familiar to Canadians. Shae Labbe, a Calgary native, played for Canada in Buffalo at the IIHF Women's U18 World Championship two seasons ago where she played on the top line with current Canadian Olympic hopeful and Minnesota Golden Gopher Sarah Potomak and Clarkson University forward √Člizabeth Gigu√®re. That top line had an outstanding tournament in Buffalo, and it really helped them hit the spotlight when it came to college recruitment. Labbe decided to choose Colgate, and there is still history being written on behalf of Colgate by Shae Labbe.

Shae, though, isn't the only member of the team to come out of the Canadian U18 team as it seems that Colgate has a solid number of great, young Canadian players on its roster. Senior defender Kaila Pinkney, senior forward Breanne Wilson-Bennett, freshman defender Shelby Wood, freshman forward Malia Schenider, sophomore forward Anonda Hoppner, and senior defender Lauren Wildfang are all graduates of Canada's program. Speaking of national players, they also boast Swiss national team defender Livia Altmann, so this squad has a pile of incredible international talent and experience on it this season.

After a pair of wins over the New Hampshire Wildcats this past weekend, the Raiders improved to 11-1-0 with their only loss coming at the hands of St. Lawrence. They also beat the former third-ranked team in the nation in the Clarkson Golden Knights, so they've taken down a heavyweight on their climb up the standings. Factor in wins against perennial powerhouses Mercyhurst and Northeastern, and this Colgate team may have all the pieces it needs to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

In getting to be the third-best team in the nation, the team went off and set some new school records as well. Julia Vandyk, who hails from Cambridge, Ontario, broke Colgate's record for wins in an NCAA career with her 36th win on Friday over New Hampshire, breaking the previous mark of 35 set by Rebecca Lahar in 2005. Shae Labbe went off and set the new mark for the fastest hat trick in school history, scoring three goals in 8:39 against New Hampshire on Friday.

Honestly, it's been fun checking up on Colgate when I can. I'm happy that Krista convinced me to switch allegiances over to her school this season as it's been a heckuva ride thus far. I'm just hoping that the Raiders can make it to the Women's Frozen Four this year as it will take place March 16-18 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota. That's close enough for me to go and cheer on my new favorite team!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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