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NU Ices Two Women’s Teams


by Janet Schultz, NYHOL; Photos by Janet Schultz

Over 11 years ago Niagara University eliminated it’s DI Women’s Ice Hockey program. While traces of those teams and their accomplishments seem to have disappeared from Dwyer Arena, things are changing for the better for women’s ice hockey.

Anna Quattro has a vision and a passion for hockey. She brought the idea of adding women’s ice hockey back onto the NU campus with an ACHA team last season. That D2 team, which plays in the College Hockey East League,  was successful, winning the 2023 Championship, after posting a 10-2-1 record.

This season, Head Coach Quattro decided that it was possible to have a DI team in the ACHA, along with the D2 team. She recruited 36 new girls for the two teams. There are now 46 players in the program, but that means 36 are freshmen.

The D2 team remains close to the way it was last season, with a new Head Coach in Anthony Marano and a number of players returning; planning to defend their title.

Quattro will be coaching the DI program.

“I see us being in the top 8 to 12 in the league,” said Coach Quattro. “In our opening weekend we beat Miami 4-0 and 4-3. Miami was in tenth last season. So this is a good  indicator of how we are going to do this year.

“All the girls are new so it’s a fresh mindset, they are building their own culture and they are super excited and motivated.”

That was seen in their early morning practice recently. They worked hard and yet the smiles were on their faces as they came off the ice and talked to NYHOL.

“I think we will be in the top ten,” said Rachel Loewen, a defenseperson from Arlington, Va. “We have a bunch of really good girls.

“We have a really good floor check and our goaltending is on top of everything,” said Loewen. “We have a strong back end and a strong front end.”

Goaltender Addley MacKenzie agrees with her.

“We all go out and put out everything we have on the ice and we have a lot of passion and heart and bring that to every game.”

“Coach Anna is amazing and it’s great to play for a woman coach at such a high level,” continued MacKenzie. “It’s something you don’t see very often and it definitely makes a difference.”

“Coach Anna is the kindest person ever and she teaches you the right things while also showing us how to have fun,” said Layla Rushforth, a forward from Burlington, Ontario.

“We are top ten for sure,” continued Rushforth. “We hope to make it to the nationals as a first year team and with mostly freshmen. It’s a hard battle but we are capable of doing it based on this past weekend (vs Miami).”

Rushforth sees Indiana Tech as one of their biggest rivals, along with Adrian College. Liberty is the other strong team, but they would face them only in a playoff situation.

Coach Quattro knows they have some things to work on because they are young and don’t have the same experience as many other teams they will be facing.

But she also knows they have tenacity and drive.

“NU’s philosophy is for young ladies to play competitive hockey at a level comfortable for them and gives different skill level players a place to  play,” continued Quattro.

Looking at the team, there are two NY State players including Kaitlyn Diem of Penfield and Julia Peters of Orchard Park.

Diem was a standout player who put up 53 points in 13 games with NU’s D2 team last season. She is a two-sport athlete playing on the NCAA DI NU soccer team.

“Katie is a strong offensive presence, she’s 6 feet tall and an extremely fast skater,” said Coach Quattro. “She also has the ability to find the back of the net in any situation.”

Julia, who played for Frontier/Orchard Park in the Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey League, as well as Nichols School, helped the Syracuse Valley Eagles 19U Tier II team to two national championships. 

“Julia contributes to the team with her high hockey IQ,” said Coach Quattro. “She’s always smiling and presents a team-first mentality. 

“She also has the ability to score when she is on the ice and will be a large contributor to the team.”

Julia is a two-sport athlete as a member of the NU DI Lacrosse team.

Another thing to watch on this team are twin sisters from Burlington, Ontario.

Bianca and Layla Rushforth. 

The NU D1 Team will be at Dwyer Arena Friday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m. and again on Saturday October 21 at 3 p.m. at Cornerstone Arena in Lockport to Indiana Tech. A note that Allison Greene, a player from the Clarence/Amherst/Sweethome WNYGVIH team will be facing some friends at NU. Greene is in her first year at Indiana Tech. The October 20 game is Pink the Rink Night at Dwyer.

After that home series, NU takes to the road before returning to Dwyer to face Davenport University on Friday, December 1 and 2 at 6:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. respectively.

On December 8 and 9 they will face the University of Rhode Island at home.

NU greets the New Year by traveling to Indiana Tech on January 5 and 6 and then hosting Penn State University at Dwyer Arena on January 13 and 14. Back on the road to Adrian College on January 20 and 21 and then they close out their season with three games at home. A double-header against the University of Massachusetts/Amherst on January 26 and 27 and on February 3 against Sault College.