Title Defense Begins

W. Hockey Tries to Repeat without Mleczko

In the most dramatic moment of her collegiate career, sophomore Jen Botterill slammed the puck home from the right post in overtime of the 1998-99 AWCHA national championship game against New Hampshire, giving the Harvard women's hockey team it's first-ever title.

Botterill, a silver medalist on the 1998 Canadian Olympic Team, is one of the many talented Crimson who will take on the challenge of adding another AWCHA banner to the rafters of Bright Hockey Center in the 1999-2000 season.

"Winning last year makes us want it that much more this season," said Botterill, the American Women's College Hockey Alliance Tournament MVP and ECAC Rookie of the Year. "I still get thrilled just thinking about last year."


Along the way, Harvard (33-1-0, 24-1-1 ECAC) nearly doubled the previous team records for wins and goals (218). This year's squad ranks No. 1 in U.S. College Hockey Online's preseason poll. But the Crimson will be tested in the first month of the season, with road games at play No. 4 Minnesota Nov. 7and at No. 2 New Hampshire.

"The expectations are very similar to last year," said Coach Katey Stone, the ECAC Coach of the Year. "We don't expect to be a polished machine the first month of the season but we do expect everyone to work hard and do the best that they can."

One part of the machine that needs replacing is A.J. Mleczko '99 (37 g, 77 a), who will join Stone's coaching staff this season. Mleczko won the Kazmaier Award for national player of the year by setting the record for points in a season (114) and a career (257) for Division I women's hockey. And, despite injuring her shoulder in the national championship game, Mleczko delivered the game-winning assist in overtime.

"Leadership is something A.J. really brought to the table last year but we've got strong leaders in our captains as well as some younger, very dominant players," Stone said. "The one area where we'll miss A.J. most is on special teams but we feel we have the personnel to fill those holes."

Botterill (37, 51) will take Mleczko's spot as first-line center for the Crimson. Botterill played wing for Mleczko last season, but the sophomore from Winnipeg, Manitoba, has the skating and stickhandling ability to be effective from anywhere on the ice.

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