1996-97 Season in Review
20-8-2, 17-4-1, 2nd ECAC
Coach: Jackie Barto
Captains: Catherine Hanson, Jen Wagner
The 1996-97 Providence College Lady Friars finished the season with an impressive 20-8-2 record. It marked the ninth time in 23 seasons that the Lady Friars posted 20 or more wins. In league action, Head Coach Jackie Barto's squad finished second with a 17-4-1 record and advanced to the ECAC Semifinals.
In addition to the team's success, several players had outstanding seasons. Sophomore forward Laurie Baker (Concord, Mass.) earned her second consecutive First Team ECAC All-Star honor while freshman goaltender Sara DeCosta (Warwick, R.I.), sophomore defenseman Katie Lachapelle (Lewiston, Maine), junior defenseman Catherine Hanson (Marquette, Mich.) and senior forward Alison Wheeler (Waterbury, Vt.) each earned ECAC Honorable Mention honors.
Baker led the team in scoring for the second consecutive season. The sophomore forward tallied 43 goals and 28 assists in 30 games. One of the most exciting players in college hockey, Baker registered five hat tricks and 13 multiple-goal games in 1996-97. Her 43 goals is the second highest single season total in PC history. In just two seasons at Providence, Baker has recorded 119 points (75 goals, 44 assists).
Sophomore Myia Yates (St. Paul, Minn.) and senior Alison Wheeler (Waterbury, Vt.) each had a strong season for the Lady Friars. Yates finished tied for the team lead in assists (28) and was second in scoring (42 points). Wheeler led the team in power-play goals (eight), was second in goals (18) and finished third in scoring (39 points).
In goal, freshman Sara DeCosta (Warwick, R.I.) backstopped the squad with a 18-7-2 record, a 2.66 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. DeCosta had a spectacular freshman season which included two shutouts and two 50-save perfomances. She also was named ECAC Rookie of the Week twice in 1996-97.
The Lady Friars started the season with a flurry winning their first six games and ending the month of November with a perfect 6-0 mark, which included ECAC wins against Boston College, Dartmouth, St. Lawrence and Cornell.
PC suffered its first defeat of the season when the team failed to hold a 2-0 lead and fell to Canadian powerhouse Concordia, 4-2, at the Princeton Invitational on December 1. PC rebounded from the Concordia loss with consecutive league wins against Yale and Dartmouth and entered the holiday season with an 8-1 record.
Although the Lady Friars defeated New Hampshire, 4-3, on January 11 and handed the Wildcats their first loss ever at the Whittemore Center, PC's young squad struggled in January. After starting the new year with a loss to Northeastern, PC reeled off three straight wins, including the victory at UNH. Despite a 0-3-1 record in its last four games in January, the Lady Friars showed signs of rebounding from their skid as they posted a 4-4 tie against Concordia on January 18 at Schneider Arena.
PC entered February with a two-game losing streak, but quickly changed its fortunes. The Lady Friars registered a 7-1-1 mark and asserted themselves as one of the top teams in the league. Highlighting the team's impressive month was a 2-1 win against Northeastern at Matthews Arena on February 8 and a 2-2 tie against New Hampshire at Schneider Arena on February 15.
In March the Lady Friars split their final two games of the regular season and earned a second-place finish in league standings with a 17-4-1 mark. PC defeated Cornell, 3-1, in the ECAC Quarterfinals at Schneider Arena on March 8, improving its all-time ECAC Tournament mark to 24-7. In the Semifinals, PC was matched against New Hampshire, the third seeded team. In a rematch of the 1996 ECAC Finals, a game which lasted five overtimes, UNH defeated the Lady Friars, 4-3, in overtime.
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