By Janet Schultz
The Buffalo State College Women’s Ice Hockey Team hits the ice with a new Coach, the sixth in the history of the college. Coach David Dee is looking to provide stability to the team.
“They deserve it” said Coach Dee. “I don’t forecast out a season, I let the chips fall where they may.”
But with that said he approaches the game a little differently.
After 30 years in the media field, specifically television, he sees the game from a different point of view. He has played, coached and watched the game and learned that a good coach is one that pays attention to the little things and doesn’t get caught up in the X’s and O’s.
“I think hockey comes down to a lot of one-on-one battles,” said Dee. “We have systems but at the end of the day I don’t know how much those things have as much affect as one-on-one battles.”
Coach works on individual skills on Me Mondays and then team sets on Team Tuesday. By Wednesday they are back to battle skills.
Looking at the season the Bengals are short on numbers, according to Coach; but he plans to build around that with competition and depth.
“We are not at the talent level we need to be at this point,” said Coach.
Coach has also brought in some help for Goaltender Bri Gawronski. Last season she played in every game and faced all the shots in practice. This season with Victoria Cottrell and Soleil Archambeault Bri can be spelled in practice.
“Victoria has an incredible work ethic and plays with a team first attitude. I want them to push Bri,” he continued. “Their job is to pressure her for playing time.”
Archambeault is from Ontario and played for the San Jose Sharks girls team last season and Cottrell comes from Buffalo and the WNYGVIH league and Buffalo Bisons.
“Bri doesn’t want to come out of the net and I have no ratio of what to do; I need to sit down and evaluate it.
“The forwards will be deeper,” continued Coach.
“I have high hopes for Lila Toczek serving as Captain and leading the offense with Natasha Steinle. There will also be getting some offense from our defense this year with Lauren Madden who moved from forward to defense.
“I believe in playing people to their strengths and plan to get Madden out on the ice as much as I can.
“New comers I see contributing are Lexi Lazore from Salmon River, Ellen Spiller from East Aurora, Tristen Stetson, Anchorage.
Other he sees as looking good are Ky Lackey and foresees a big year for Senior Jessica Carter.
Defense will be led by Cheyenne Matson and Berkleigh Radcliffe.
Two other players who have impressed him are Tori Fadeley who has worked very hard off season and Kira Herkey who also shows up every day and works hard.
With a new coaching staff there will be a learning curve with changes in coaching style and Coach Dee’s outlook isn’t complex.
“I want to find out what people can do and have them do it,” explains Dee. “I believe in putting them in spots they do right, keep them in those spots and don’t make them robots.”
“Even if I didn’t get the Head Coaching job, I just want the best for the girls and give them stability.”
Coach Dee also has a goal to do a better job of taking care of the WNY area.
“I see the number of girls that leave here, where they go and I need to do a better job of protecting my backyard.
“I want to do a better job of getting more WNY girls here, just to see Buffalo State’s facilities.
“I want every girl to visit here, even if they don’t plan on coming, and see what we have to offer.” Said Dee.
Currently there are ten WNY girls on the Bengals hockey team and the assistant coach, Rachel Grampp is from the Williamsville area.
Dee sought Grampp out and calls her his biggest recruit this year.
Grampp played for Williamsville High School in the WNYGVIH League, played four years at Elmira for the Soaring Eagles and then served as an assistant coach at Canton and an intern coach for the U15 National USA Development Camp. Among her honors are reaching the NCAA DIII Championships in four-consecutive years, including a runner-up finish in 2015 and 2018; being named the UCHC Defensive Player of the Year and an ACHA Academic All-American for the 2018 season. She also earned a selection into the UCHC All-Tournament team, UCHC All-Academic team and the ECAC West All-Rookie team in 2015.
The season opens Friday (November 1) at 12:30 p.m. against Plattsburgh, the DIII national champions for five times in the last six years. On their roster is East Amherst’s Holly Schmelzer, Emma Faso of Clarence Center and Kaitlin Drew-Mead of Niagara Falls; all three girls played in the WNYGVIH League. Serving as an assistant coach is Julia Duquette, who played for Monsignor Martin of the WNYGVIH League.
They will also faceoff again on Saturday, November 2 at 12:30 p.m.