The puck drops on the 2019-2020 hockey season on Friday evening as the 8th-ranked Boston College Women’s Hockey team travels to Merrimack for a pair of road games to open the regular season schedule. We sat down with BC head coach Katie Crowley to discuss the upcoming year.
BC Interruption: If you were to sum up the team’s mindset for the upcoming season in the form of a team motto, what would it be?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: First of all I think they’re very excited to get going. And the energy around our team has been awesome within the locker room with the players that we have. Everybody’s excited every day. It’s been great so far and we’re looking forward to that continuing.
But without giving away our own internal team things right now... I think the team is really just excited to get going and happy with the work that they’ve put in over the summer and in the last couple of weeks. They’ve done a tremendous job. So everyone’s very excited for the season.
BC Interruption: So you’ve got one internally that you guys don’t want to share just yet?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: Yeah -- nothing crazy. We just have some words that we use. But I think, yeah, we’ll save that for a little bit.
BC Interruption: So what’s the yardstick for success this year? What’s the minimum you hope the team can achieve when you consider the season was successful one?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: I mean, I think every year we look to get trophies, and that mindset has not changed for us one bit. We’re in a little bit of a different role at the beginning of the year in terms of being a little bit of an underdog, I’d say, but I think with this group and how hard they work, I think we’re ready to take those steps to win more trophies for our program.
BC Interruption: Looking back on the last few seasons that didn’t quite end the way that we hoped, is there anything that you regret or anything that you would do differently in the past few years if you can play it over again?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: No, I think as a staff we always look to do what’s right for the team all the time, and I think that’s still our mindset today. When we look at different roles that our players have, it’s always with the team’s best interest in mind. So no, I don’t think there’s necessarily things that I would change.
Every year as a program we’ve been able to grow in certain ways, and you know, sometimes you grow from a positive and sometimes you grow from a negative and I think that we’ve been able to do that every year in different ways.
BC Interruption: With the exception of Kate Annese, who hasn’t seen that much playing time with us in her career just yet, the entire blue line consists of freshmen and sophomores. Do you anticipate any changes in our defensive philosophy given that inexperience, either early on while you’re getting the freshmen up to speed or just in general throughout the year?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: No, we’ll keep our defensive mindset the same. Court [Associate Head Coach Courtney Kennedy] does a great job with our defensive corps, and a couple of the freshmen that we have coming in have learned from Court before and know how she coaches and what she expects of our defense. And I think that crew will fit right in with how we like to do things. There’ll be some mistakes I think with everyone, but it’s how you fix those mistakes as a group and how you help each other out. We have a talented group on defense who are really excited to keep moving this team forward.
BC Interruption: Could you give us a little bit of a background on how you see the freshmen and their roles as the season gets underway?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: Hadley Hartmetz made the USA U22 team and did really well for herself. She’s a very good defender who sees the ice really well, moves well, jumps up in the play at the right times, and really keeps things simple on the ice.
Alexie Guay is very similar to her, maybe a little bit more dynamic on the offensive side? Being able to see them in the exhibition game this past weekend, it was great to see both of them kind of jump in, play our system, but keep their own game. That’s one of the things that’s key with those two is we’re not trying to change anything they’re doing, just because they’re both very, very talented and I really think have a huge upside here.
Deirdre Mullowney I thought did a great job too. She’s a little bit more of a stay-at-home defender but is another one who has been in a lot of different situations hockey-wise with her team winning the national championship last year, and her U14 year too. She’s been in big games and been in big moments and knows that pressure which is great too.
Right now we have Abby Volo back on D. She’s a smart hockey player who has never really played D so she’s kind of working away back there into learning our systems on both sides, because she can really be on either side right now.
Hannah Bilka is a very dynamic forward, you can’t say enough good things about a player like her in terms of her offensive ability. She’s very instinctual and just a really smart hockey player who’s fun to play with; she’s very very good.
Caroline DiFiore, very quick, she’s been very good for us so far in playing different positions and different roles and just as a hunger. You can see it in her, that hunger to be a good hockey player and a hockey player that makes an impact on the team, she’s been good for us offensively and in learning our systems. She’s a very good player who’s similar to Deirdre where she’s been in a lot of situations with her high school team where she’s trying to help them win a championship. So I think all that helps for confidence coming into to a college team and also for just knowing how to win.
BC Interruption: The elephant in the room is the departure of Watts and Lonergan to transfer, and we’ve gotten a lot of comments about it on the website since the news broke that they were leaving. What would you say to our readers who’ve been asking us about it and how do you expect the locker room dynamic to be different this year without them?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: They made those decisions on their own and decided to go elsewhere, and we just move forward. I’m really excited about the mood in our locker room and the energy and how hard everyone works in there on a daily basis. And I think that’s the most important thing, it’s what these 21 players are trying to do for Boston College Hockey and how they’re helping our program move forward.
BC Interruption: We lost a huge percentage of our scoring to graduations and transfers. How much of that scoring do you expect to be replaced with increased production from the returning players and how much you expect to rely on the freshmen?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: I think it’s going to be a little bit of both, you know. In the last couple of years we’ve had three or four people that have been up in that top crew, and then it drops off. I think you’re going to find that it’s a little bit more across the board for us this year where lots of different people are producing and put in positions that they can help produce and help our team. And I think that’s one of the things that people are really excited, they’re going to be in positions where they can help our team be successful and I think it’s exciting for all of them.
BC Interruption: What does it mean to have Andie Anastos returning to the team in a coaching capacity, and when do you expect her primary possibilities to be?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: Andie’s been great so far. One of the biggest things is she went to school here; she knows what it’s all about and knows the ins and outs of BC that maybe Court and I are a little too removed from them. She’s been great helping us with little things like that and in changing a few little things here and there that might be helpful. And just knowing what the student athletes have to do on a daily basis and how we can help them adjust a little bit and make it a little bit easier for them.
She’s going to be helping with the forwards, basically everything that goes with that, and she’ll be working with our power plays as well. She’s been great so far and I’m really excited. I know our team is really excited to have her on board too.
BC Interruption: Long Island University is starting a program this year which makes it 41 teams now playing at the D1/D2 level, and LIU has actually already scheduled Wisconsin for early this year, A lot of the other NEWHA conference teams have scheduled other D1 programs as well. Do you anticipate setting up any future games with some of these smaller programs?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: We have our schedule pretty much done for this year and then the two after this, so possibly after that, I don’t know where we’ll go after that. But our schedule is already set for the next few seasons.
BC Interruption: I’m going to give you the last word -- so if you could say one thing to any BC Interruption readers who don’t usually follow the program but who are reading this now before the season starts what would you tell them?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: I think this is going to be an exciting team, and if you haven’t seen our women’s hockey program, this team is a dynamic team. They work extremely hard, and I’m really excited about our opportunity here at the beginning of the year to see how well we do with our first couple of weekends. But the team is really excited, and, you know, I think they’re ready. They’re ready to go.
I think you’ll be able to see that if you come watch our team play, they really all get along well and they’re a fun group to be around. So I think if you haven’t been able to see a women’s hockey game come down and watch. This team’s an exciting one.
Thanks to Coach Crowley for taking the time to sit down with us to us into hockey season. You can follow You can follow Coach Crowley and the BC Women’s Hockey team on Twitter to keep up with the program, and of course check in with BC Interruption for full coverage throughout the season.
The 2019-2020 season begins this Friday and Saturday with a pair of league games at Merrimack on September 27th and 28th. Be sure to check back in this weekend for full coverage!