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Sharks women’s hockey falls just short of going back-to-back in an otherwise historic season

By Brady Campbell, Assistant Sports Editor

This time one year ago, the Sharks defeated Saint Anselm 2-0 to claim the New England Women’s Hockey Alliance (NEWHA) championship. This was the second conference championship for the program with the first coming in their inaugural season in 2020. 

The team posted a 17-4-3 conference record and a 20-13-3 overall record and had suddenly become a force to be reckoned with for years to come in women’s collegiate hockey. However, that team was stacked with seniors and many departed the team through graduation or the transfer portal. 

There were some that questioned if the Sharks could remain at the top of the conference with so many personnel changes and other teams poised to make a run at the defending champs. 

The team would answer those questions and then some once conference play began.

After starting 0-4 overall in non-conference action, the Sharks would catch fire, ripping off 14 consecutive conference victories, with a loss to the 12th-ranked Princeton Tigers mixed in. The team would then hit their only skid of the season, losing three consecutive games, the last two of which were the only two conference losses they would suffer this season. 

They would then proceed to close out their season on a 12-game winning streak to clinch the number one seed in the NEWHA tournament for the second consecutive season. The Sharks would also set a new program record with wins in a season, with 26 in 34 games. 

Photo credits: LIU Athletics

LIU was coached by Kelly Nash and her staff in her second season, and as expected, led them to their second straight conference regular season championship. Nash was named the NEWHA Coach of the Year at the conclusion of the regular season. 

One player that has shined under Nash is Bri Eid, a junior defenseman and sports management major from Belle River Ontario. Eid set a career high in points with 20, including 18 helpers while also holding down the fort on the back end. Eid would also be named the NEWHA Defender of the Year and first team All-NEWHA. 

“Obviously Kelly is a great coach along with Nora and Shelly and everyone else on the staff,” Eid said. “They are just so good at communicating with us and they are such good leaders making sure that we are all on the same page all of the time.”

Goaltender Tindra Holm, a junior goaltender and sports management major hailing from Skelleftea, Sweden, had another dominant season between the pipes, posting a career-high in save percentage and goals against average with .940 and 1.94 respectively. Holm also claimed the NEWHA Goaltender of the Year award and a first team All-NEWHA honor while being a runner-up for the 2024 National Women’s Goalie of the Year. 

Holm is looking forward to the future of the program under the guidance of Nash. 

“Seeing Kelly develop this program is really cool to see, and I think that it is only going to go up from here,” she said.   

Many of the newcomers came into their own this season as well, including freshman Grace Babington, who claimed the NEWHA Rookie of the Year award, putting up nine goals and seven assists for a total of 16 points. 

The NEWHA tournament would run through the Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow, New York. Going up against Saint Michael’s in the quarterfinal best of three round the Sharks came to play, getting some big goals from first team All-NEWHA junior forward Jeannie Wallner and second team All-NEWHA senior forward Mikayla Lantto. 

LIU would go on to sweep the series, winning game one 3-2 and taking game two 3-0, with Holm putting up a 24 save shutout, her fifth of the season. Unfortunately for the Sharks, their season would end in heartbreaking fashion, as the Franklin Pierce Ravens would come back from down 3-1 late to win the semifinal game 4-3 in overtime. 

This was a tough blow for the Sharks, including their four departing seniors, forwards Mikayla Lantto and Journey Miller, as well as defenseman Saige McKay and Ceilidh Campbell. 

“Ceilidh and Saige are two inaugural members and they have been here from the get-go. I think they are such a good reminder of how far we have come in such a short period of time. If this is where we are at in just a few years, imagine where we will be five years from now,” Holm said. “Journey came in the same year as us so it feels as though she is in our class.”

“Mikayla Lantto had a huge season and she is so good on the ice obviously but off of the ice as well she is a really good leader on this team and that will definitely be a big role to fill,” Eid added. 

Despite the tough ending to an incredible season, the Sharks are primed to go on a tear next season and finish what they started this season. 

“I think we can expect something similar to this season,” Eid said. “Obviously if we could break another win record, that would be huge.” 

Holm would share the same sentiment, saying “what is cool about being a newer program is that you can create history every day and there are always new goals to achieve. With the way this season ended, everyone is going to come back next year hungry to win.” 

Though it may be several months away, Holm is putting the NEWHA on notice next season. 

“The Sharks are going to be out on the hunt.” 

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