Icewomen Take the Offensive

Well, here they go again.

For those of you who have not heard, the Harvard women's hockey team is about to begin its 1991-92 campaign at Bright Center. And like its male counterpart, the team should challenge for the Ivy title come February.

The Crimson returns its front two offensive lines, led by explosive Co-Captain Sandra Whyte, a member of Team USA, which will compete in this spring's World Cup.

Harvard also features a solid defensive unit, anchored by Co-Captain Bev Stickles.

"This is one strongest teams to have ever laced 'em up for the Crimson," said Coach John Dooley, who is assuming his 11th year at the helm.

Whyte, last year's winner of the National and Ivy Player of the Year Awards, centers the team's first line and is flanked by sophomore sensation Joey Alissi and senior standout Ginny Simonds.

"The first line is playing at a completely different level after Sandra's experience on the National Team," Stickles said.

Seniors Jen Minkus--the team's second leading scorer last year--and Lauren Messmore, along with junior wing Kim Landry, comprise the second line.

"The key to our success will be the goal production of the second line," Whyte said.

The third line, at this juncture, consists of sophomore Emily Buxton, and seniors Laurie White and Courtney Hurley.

"Emily will play a key role on this team," Dooley said. "She will play every position on the forward line for us."

Sophomore Sharon Johnston, and freshmen Kelly Flynn, Alison Lozner, and Sara Simmons round out the offensive corps and will see limited time.

The squad will rotate five defenders, buoyed by three-time All-Ivy blue-liner Stickles. She will most likely be matched with freshman Winkie Mleczko. Sophomores Francie Walton and Beth Messmore, both a year stronger, will be paired. Freshman Diana Clark, who played her high school hockey at St. Paul's, rounds out the unit.

Freshman goaltender Erin Villiotte, who captained the boys team at Shrewsbury High, will get the call between the pipes. Lexi Shear, who posted a 1.88 goals-against average while playing behind last year's senior starter Gillian D'Souza, will also see some action.

"Erin is a real blue-chip goal-tender," Dooley said. "And if you have a goalie, you can play this game."

Last season Harvard finished fourth in the Ivy League, but won the postseason Ivy Tournament. This season, however, the Ancient Eight tournament has been eliminated and teams will have to distinguish themselves during the regular season to capture the Ivy crown.

"This is the best parity I've ever seen in the Ivy League," Dooley said. "Every team has a sharpshooter."

Dartmouth will probably be the team to beat. It features Gretchen Ulion and Laurie Jacobs as well as several other members of last year's championship squad.

Although Princeton lost some key players, it adds freshman Team USA member Kathy Issel to its roster. Brown has also obtained the services of several talented freshmen.

Cornell boasts a strong veteran team led by Kim Ratushny, who plays for the Canadian National Team, and slick Beth Moxie. Yale will probably struggle against its formidable Ivy counterparts.

"We'll be vert competitive in the Ivies," Whyte said, "but any of five teams could be on top.

"Sandra and Joey bring everyone else to another level, Ginny is the best I've seen her and Bev has been a great leader for the young defense," Dooley said.

With the addition of several skilled freshmen and an extra year of seasoning for the returnees, the Crimson should improve upon last year's record of 13-10-1 (6-4 Ivy).

"Players are working really hard this year--the team's attitude is more intense," Stickles said. "We want to win the Ivy league and we even feel winning the Beanpot is a reasonable goal."

Harvard gets underway at home on December 1, when the Crimson faces off against Yale.