Phenom Freshmen Now Sophomores
NATE WOELFEL - NCHA INSIDER
In Northern Collegiate Hockey Association women’s hockey, the 2010-11 season was touted by some as the year of the freshman.
Four freshmen graced the All-Conference first team.
However, the trio of goaltender Emily Michelin of Adrian College, forwards Kait Mason of UW-River Falls and Allie Tanzer of UW-Stevens Point grabbed the attention of many throughout the conference, as well as the nation, and in doing so have racked up an impressive list of superlatives.
Michelin posted a 16-6-2 record and 1.99 goals against average as she helped the Lady Bulldogs to the the NCAA Divison III Tournament.
In her coach’s opinion, the on ice success aided in team chemistry.
“The team is very confident in her,” said Adrian head coach Chad Davis. “They take a liking just to her presence. There’s good chemistry when she’s on the ice and I think that’s kind of the outlook of the players in front of her.”
Her eight shutouts, five in conference games, tied a single season NCHA record. Her efforts made her a selection for the All-American team.
Mason established herself as one the premier forwards in the conference, racking up an astounding 40 points in 30 contests.
On top of being named to the All-NCHA first team, Mason was also an All-American selection for the regular season champion Falcons.
Tanzer burst onto the scene by tallying a team-high 17 goals in her inaugural campaign, a mark that placed her third in the conference in goals scored. A tandem of internal drive and discipline has correlated to success for the young forward.
“She was bound and determined to be successful,” said UWSP head coach Ann Ninnemann. “She put everything forth and gave it all she had and I thought had a very good first year.”
She finished the year second among freshmen and seventh in the NCHA in points scored.
As the page turns to a new season, these notable young ladies hope to continue to carry the torch that draws national attention to their teams and conference and are hoping to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump in the process.
But success in year one doesn’t assure the same type of production in years two, three or four, especially when the pressure begins to build.
“For most freshmen, the expectations are fairly low, responsibilities aren’t very big,” said Ninnemann. “I know Allie had very high expectations for herself and as a program, obviously we have high expectations for her as well.”
Though none of the three are off to a blistering start, the young stars in the making have posted respectable numbers in the first month of play.
Michelin is 2-3-1 with a 2.35 goals against average between the pipes for Adrian, who has faced some stiff competition in the early going.
Mason and Tanzer have posted three and four points, respectively.
It has been said that numbers aren’t everything. This seems to ring especially true in Michelin’s case.
“Quite honestly, she doesn’t get very caught up in numbers. I think she just goes and plays and has fun and she’s good at it,” said Davis. “She’s very focused on stopping the puck and playing. At the end of the year she collects some pretty good numbers with that. Quite honestly if I asked her what her goals against average was or save percentage today, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t really know.”
At the end of the day, the assets that led to the initial triumphs are typically outside the realm of quantifiable information. This type of internal motivation has been noticed by many who have been around Tanzer.
“Her determination, that’s kind of the bottom factor,” Ninnemann said. “She’s not the most skilled or the fastest kid on our team, but I think her mentality of just doing something has kind of been the best aspect of her game.”
The willingness to work and the drive to compete has been a trait that has helped Michelin mature quickly.
"First and foremost, I think it is her competitiveness,” Davis said. “In practice she’s always working hard and that is what stands out to me in her game. That comes from within her. Obviously, being an All-American, she already has the work ethic and competitiveness and I don’t think you lose that.”
No matter what the future holds for last year’s promising freshmen, rest assured - they will be working hard to ensure the NCHA is in good hands for seasons to come.