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Transitional Year for UB Women

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by Janet Schultz, as submitted by Coach Phil Basinski

The University of Buffalo women are in a transitional year after losing several key seniors, including WNYGVIH Monsignor Martin’s outstanding goalie Izzy Battaglia. Battaglia broke her foot last season just as UB was heading into the ACHA playoffs. 

With that said, Juniors Sierra Dominik and Rochester native Abbie Wisenberg have the leadership ability to take this team into the playoffs. Dominik led the team in scoring  last season and Wisenberg is a fast, nimble, smooth skating defenseperson who is an anchor on the back end. She replaces Emily Matthews who will be graduating this month (December).

“Emily will be a big loss for us,” said Head Coach Phil Basinski. “She was our best on and off ice leader bringing a good work ethic along with the smarts, skill and determination that delivers in the big moments you hope you get from your best players.”

“She was also her teammates best cheerleader.”

This year’s freshmen feature a standout goaltender from Southern Ontario in Franka Piluso. 

“She is another skilled and smart player,” said Basinksi. “She understands the game very well.”

The other freshmen are still fairly raw at this point of the season, including one that has never played hockey before, and just learning to skate.

Basinski went on to say that this year’s team is doing very well in implementing the team play concepts that they work extensively on in practice and translating that to game situations. They understand that with only one puck and 12 players that much of the game is played without the puck. 

“We’re now seeing that translate into more instinctive play away from the puck which creates better puck movement, more speed, more scoring, better defense and, most important, more fun!”

It should be an exciting season for fans because it is entertaining hockey. Dominik can get the puck through tiny spaces between defenders sticks and feet then bury the puck behind the goaltender. Ava Tower (formerly with Monsignor Martin of the WNYGVIH Federation) has great chemistry with Lizzy Sachar making exciting hockey as they execute fantastic passing and scoring plays.

Matthew’s is an incredible skater who is fearless as she plays with or without the puck. Abbie Wiesenberg’s ability to break up plays defensively, then charges up the ice with the newly stolen puck is something to witness in person.

“It might not be easy, but if you watch closely, what you will see is a group of really, really good friends having a blast playing a game they love,” concluded Basinski.

“What’s truly amazing is how this group includes, encourages and mentors all of the underclassmen,” said Basinski.

UB plays in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, College Hockey East. They are currently in fifth place. Niagara University’s D2 team is in first, followed by The Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh and Mercyhurst.

Dominik is first on the team in scoring with 15 goals and 6 assists in 7 games and she sits third in the CHE. Just in front of her are WNYer’s Ellie Schau of Mercyhurst with 12 goals and 10 assists and Niagara University’s and Buffalo’s Katelyn Koester with 11 goals and 11 assists.

UB has a very active December with Brockport and the University of Pittsburgh coming to Northtowns December 2 and 3; UB heading to Cortland on December 8 and Brockport on December 9. Their last 2023 game will be December 10 facing cross-town rival Niagara University D2.

Following a winter break they return to the ice against the University of Pittsburgh at Northtowns on January 27.