BRUNSWICK, Maine - After a long offseason, the Bowdoin College ice hockey teams return to action this weekend with high expectations. The men's squad is coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002 while the women's squad welcomes a familiar face behind the bench with sights set on returning to national prominence.
Coach Terry Meagher and the men's ice hockey squad will open their 2010-11 campaign at home against UMass-Boston and Babson this Friday and Saturday at Sidney J. Watson Arena while new head coach Marissa O'Neil will make her Bowdoin debut with the women's team at Colby on Saturday evening.
As always, all regular season Bowdoin hockey games are free admission. No tickets are required and doors will open one hour prior to faceoff each game. Fans who cannot make it to Watson Arena this winter can still follow the Polar Bears all season thanks to an extensive webcast schedule. All home games will be available via live statistics.
After their most successful campaign in nearly a decade, excitement is high around the Bowdoin men's ice hockey program this winter. Ranked seventh in the preseason Division III poll, Bowdoin finished 19-7-1 last year, finished atop the NESCAC regular season standings and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. Seven of Bowdoin's top eight scorers return from a squad that ranked first in the NESCAC at 4.30 goals per game last year. Senior defenseman Kyle Shearer-Hardy (eight goals, 22 assists) returns to co-captain the squad with Owen Smith (four goals, six assists). Reigning NESCAC Rookie of the Year Daniel Weiniger (13 goals, 13 assists) and senior Jeff Fanning (15 goals, two assists) will look to spark the Polar Bear attack. Junior Richard Nerland (3.06 goals against average) aims to fill the role of starting netminder for the Polar Bears, while first-year Steve Messina will look to garner playing time between the pipes as well.
After a season-opening weekend against UMass-Boston and Babson, other home games of interest include an exhibition contest against the U.S. Under-18 Team on November 27, Colby on December 10 and key NESCAC weekends against Williams and Middlebury (Jan. 28-29) and Trinity and Wesleyan (Feb. 11-12).
Under the direction of new head coach Marissa O'Neil, the Bowdoin College women's ice hockey team hopes to build on their first NESCAC semifinal appearance since 2007. The Polar Bears retain a wealth of talent and their top five scorers, including Kayte Holtz (15 goals, 12 assists), Shelagh Merrill (16 goals, 10 assists), Dominique Lozzi (10 goals, 16 assists) as well as goaltender Kayla Lessard (2.39 goals-against-average). Bowdoin will be captained by seniors Jill Campbell, Chelsea Young and Michaela Calnan.
Bowdoin will face an extremely challenging slate that features 13 home games, including a six-game homestand in late January into February. Pre-winter break home games include the home-opener against Salve Regina on November 23 and Colby on December 10. Bowdoin will travel to play in the Codfish Bowl at UMass-Boston after the New Year and will host several key conference games down the stretch, including a two-game set against Amherst (Feb. 4-5) and a season-ending weekend against Williams and Middlebury (Feb. 18-19).