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Friday, March 15, 2019

Celebrating local hockey stars

URI women’s hockey celebrates 20 years of growth, excellence
by Lauren Poirier
Senior members of the URI women’s hockey team
Senior members of the URI women’s hockey team are all smiles as they pose for a photo. From left, are Tai Marino, Sam Evans, Abbey Torres, Casey McCormick, Cait McGuirl, and Shay Maybury. Photo courtesy URI women’s hockey.

It would be understandable for a college athletic team to boast about reaching the final four in a national championship tournament nine times and earning 10 conference titles during its history.

But the University of Rhode Island’s women’s hockey team has achieved such excellence in just 20 years. Throughout this season, the club ice hockey team has been celebrating the growth and development of a program that has been dominant in its regional conference, the Eastern Collegiate Women’s Hockey League, and the American Collegiate Hockey Association in which Rhody has been among the nation’s four best teams nine times.

“The program and sport of women’s hockey has grown so much” said coach Ashley Pagliarini. “Coach Beth McCann started this program back in 1999 and she always told us that her first team couldn’t even skate. Since then, we have had many All-Americans, championships, and a lot of hard work by players and staff alike that has made this program what it is today.”

Current members of the URI women’s hockey team join alumni
Current members of the URI women’s hockey team join alumni of the team for a fun scrimmage to celebrate the program’s 20 years of excellence. Photo courtesy URI women’s hockey.

Currently ranked 11th in the ACHA, the team just fell short of reaching the national tournament this year.

However, even without a bid to the national tourney, the Rams have had another solid season. “As an alumna who played here, I expect a lot everyday out of every player who puts on a Rhody jersey. They’re representing our University and everyone who wore that jersey before them worked so hard to build this program,” said Pagliarini.

In October, the team celebrated its 20th anniversary in a very unique way by playing against URI hockey alumni. “Our alumni actually won, which shows how great the players have been over the last 20 years, even if we are a bit older now,” Pagliarini said. “Anytime you get all of the alumni back in the same locker room or on the ice it’s just like old times with lots of laughs.”

To co-captains Casey McCormick and Abbey Torres, playing hockey is about more than just the sport.

“My favorite aspect of playing on this team is the group of friends it has given me,” said McCormick, an alternate for Team USA in the World University Games. “I’ve gained friends for life and it’s from playing a game we have all played for our entire lives. We support each other on and off the ice. Everyone on the team makes sure everyone is supported no matter how the game is going.”

Pagliarini is also grateful for her continued involvement with the team. “I’ve been around the program since 2004 and played 5 years. We had great teams back then and were lucky to have won 5 ECWHL championships. As an alum it’s been really special for me to come back and coach a program that I love so much. We’re so lucky to have the Boss Arena on campus as such a great facility to play in.”

In terms of the team’s future, Pagliarini is confident. “I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for this program as we keep building and taking strides to be successful.”

This story was written by Lauren Poirier, a sophomore English and Public Relations major and intern at the University’s Department of Marketing and Communications.