It is never easy for any hockey team to lose a great player. A void is left in the locker room and on the ice, and filling them can be very difficult.
Luckily for the Ohio State women’s hockey team, they have another great player returning this season to help fill the hole in the locker room and on the ice.
Junior defenseman Tessa Bonhomme returns to the team this season, as the Buckeyes gear up for another tough Western Collegiate Hockey Association season.
“To be back is definitely a thrill, and it’s great to put the jersey on and be back out there with my old teammates,” Bonhomme said.
Bonhomme returns this season from the Canadian Under-22 team, where she gained important experience, both on and off the ice.
“I learned a lot about myself,” Bonhomme said. “About my game, and about myself personally.”
Bonhomme’s return this season is expected to help fill the void left by the departure of forward Jana Harrigan to graduation. Harrigan was a AHCA Second Team All-American, a First Team All-WCHA selection and led the team with 47 points.
But Bonhomme’s return, along with senior defensemen Lacey Schultz and Amber Bowman, gives the Buckeyes a tough and experienced defense that can help while the team’s offense finds its identity after the departure of Harrigan.
“Our strength is definitely our defensemen,” coach Jackie Barto said. “They handle the puck well, and working with quality defensemen, our forwards will only get better as the year goes on.”
Barto understands losing Harrigan hurts, and more than one player will have to replace her considerable contribution to the team.
“All our forwards are expected to contribute,” Barto said. “We lost 47 points with Jana, and we need everyone to contribute.”
In an exhibition game Saturday against Wilfrid Laurier, the Buckeyes defense held the Golden Eagles to 16 shots, but were defeated 2-1 as the offense connected on just one of its 39 shots.
“Offensively, we’re going to be a team any given night that can get a lot of shots through,” Barto said. “We’re going to have to jump on rebounds and take quality opportunities and put (shots) away.”
Junior forward Erin Keys scored the lone goal for the Buckeyes, cashing in on a second period power play opportunity.
Keys realizes the importance of losing a force such as Harrigan, but also believes that having Bonhomme return will make a huge impact on the Buckeyes.
“It’s definitely a huge loss, Jana was an unbelievable player, but it’s really nice having Tessa come back,” Keys said.
Keys said she believes other players will step up and help fill the void created by Harrigan’s departure.
Even with a strong offense and defense, every team must work on chemistry in order for a successful season.
“It’s a work in progress all year,” Barto said. “We’re better at it now then we were when we got off the ice yesterday.”
Barto said the players need to become familiar with each other on the ice, and that will help bring it all together as the season goes on.
Although the chemistry on the ice may take some time, the locker room chemistry is already great, as Keys said that everyone gets along and its one of the best locker rooms she has ever been a part of.
The goalkeeping is another issue for the team and may very well be the most important position on the ice. Senior Erika Vanderveer and sophomore Liana Bonanno are both competing for the starting goalkeeper position.
“Right now it’s a competitive battle,” Barto said. “We’ll evaluate the goaltending, give them another week to battle, then make a decision Friday.”