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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

At last, Varsity Status:Women’s Ice Hockey Preview

Did you know that there is a former Olympic athlete working on campus? Laura Schuler, the head coach of the UMass Boston women’s ice hockey, team had over ten successful years skating with the Canadian international hockey team. Perhaps the most notable of her accomplishments is the silver medal that she helped her team win in the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Even though Schuler was born north of the border, she is no stranger to the United States, particularly Boston. The former Olympian played collegiate hockey right here in the Hub, at Northeastern University, where she excelled as a forward.

But her playing days are now over (at least at a highly competitive level) Although she has had some experience coaching minor league hockey teams in Canada, she is particularly excited about her new adventure as the head coach of a Division III collegiate ice hockey program.

“We’re all excited,” said Shuler, referring to herself and her team. “We’ve learned a lot in the two weeks of preseason practices. Now it’s just a matter of settling down on the ice and putting it all together. That is the only thing that I am a little concerned about. But spirits are high and I think they’ll come out flying.”

The team played as a club last season and compiled a modest 9-7-1 record. What makes the record more impressive is the fact that the team mostly played against varsity teams. There may have even been more wins if the team had just a little more depth. Schuler feels that this won’t be a problem this season.

“Last year we struggled with numbers, but this year we were able to add a third line. Retention was okay, but we managed to bring in some good players. Recruiting was great. We brought in a lot of girls, and Harbor Point Apartments has been really great to us, being able to provide space for us, whether it’s a nine months out of the year or twelve.”

The Beacons figure to have some exciting and challenging times ahead. The team becomes a member of the Division III ECAC East Conference, a league that is very competitive on both a local and national level. Two teams (Manhattanville and Rensselaer) are ranked in the Top Ten national polls.

“I chose to have the team play varsity squads last season for two reasons,” said Schuler. One was to prove that we could play at that level, and two, it helped us prepare for a full slate of conference games, which are very intense and extremely competitive.”

Schuler believes that UMass Boston is an ideal place for a fledgling women’s ice hockey program to excel. She is not only grateful of the support from the Athletics Department, but also from the university as a whole.

Chancellor Gora has been very supportive of the athletics teams and she wants the teams to do well. She demonstrates her support by attending Athletic Department functions, such as the Hall of Fame banquet a few weeks ago. We want [the university community] to continue to support us, and we would like for them to come out and watch some of our games. Our Athletic Department has started a marketing campaign, and we’re hoping that our venues around the school will support that and help get students to become more involve with the UMB community.”