Women's hockey players transfer
Former University of New Hampshire women's hockey players Megan Armstrong and Alexis Crossley will be transferring from Durham as a result of the firing of their former head coach, Brian McCloskey.
Crossley, of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, will be going to Boston University, while Armstrong, of Edina, Minn., is going to St. Lawrence University. Both are entering their junior year.
The former Wildcat defensemen said that the aftermath of McCloskey's firing led to their decision. They were eager for a fresh start at a new school with a more stable environment than the one in Durham. Until last week, the team still did not have a head coach.
Crossley said she'd been considering a transfer since the end of the season. She committed to BU within the last two weeks.
"After the season, I thought that I should explore my options," Crossley said. "Not necessarily thinking about leaving, but just seeing what else is out there after the confusions and unknowns that happened after and throughout the season."
Armstrong said that she left because she specifically had a problem with how the athletic department handled the follow-up to McCloskey's termination. She said the time it took for them to hire a new coach gave her doubts about her future.
"They didn't really treat us as we should be treated as athletes," Armstrong said. "They often times would say their women's team is like one of their better teams here on campus. Well, we weren't treated that way, and the uncertainty of that whole thing was just really nerve wracking for me, and I needed to go to a situation that was more stable.
"We just didn't feel like we were supported by our athletic department."
As a result, she began looking at different schools. St. Lawrence head coach Chris Wells personally came to Durham earlier this year to court her.
"[Wells] just kind of explained that they run their program a little bit differently than the way that it was run after coach McCloskey was gone," Armstrong said. "It's more of a stable environment than there was this year, and I think just a new start for me will be the best idea. ... I wasn't promised any playing time or anything. I was just promised that I would have a team that would support me in anything, so that's kind of what I needed at this point in time."
According to Armstrong, athletic director Marty Scarano also told the players that he would be meeting with the players in the weeks leading up to the hiring of the new coach. Armstrong said that he did not hold these meetings. This bothered the sophomore.
"There was just some stuff we were told, and stuff never got done by the athletic department," Armstrong said. "The way that we were told that we would have class meetings with Marty Scarano ... He never did it ... we were told that and it never was done."
Crossley said that she started thinking about her transfer after the season had ended. When McCloskey was fired in December, it didn't occur to Crossley, an alternate captain, to consider other options.
"Honestly during the season I hadn't really considered it," Crossley said. "I just kind of went through the motions, stuck with the team and went on like everything was normal, but I think at the end of the season when we still didn't have a new coach, and not sure of the whole process and that sort of thing, I think that it kind of forced me to open my eyes a little bit and start looking around."
Before college, Crossley was recruited by BU. She took a trip down earlier this spring to spend a weekend there, visiting high school friend and Terrier forward Rebecca Russo. The visit ultimately led to her decision this month to leave UNH.
Armstrong and Crossley did not plan their transfers together. It wasn't until they'd both considered it on their own that they learned of each other intentions. Once rumors of players transferring began floating around the locker room, the two happened to talk about it. Crossley said she was thinking about it, and Armstrong replied that she was seriously considering a transfer.
"We actually were very secretive about it at first," Armstrong said. "We didn't know what we wanted to do and then one day we kind of started talking about it ... we you know didn't step on each other's toes, did it all in the situation we were looking at different schools and everything so we definitely didn't decide this together."
Crossley also had a strong relationship with McCloskey, but she did not harbor biased feelings about his firing.
"Honestly, I think that I'm kind of impartial," Crossley said. "I loved him as a coach, but I can understand the reasoning behind the fact that his contract had to be terminated."
The two exiting players said that the decision to leave had nothing to do with their former teammates and that they maintain close friendships with the other Wildcats.
"It's 100% separate from my friendships," Crossley said. "That's something that I really appreciate about all the girls that I've gotten to spend the last two years with, is that they're so supportive of me wanting to find something new and different, and I'm really happy that they're able to put the hockey part aside of it, and they're happy for me."
Crossley is excited to make the transition from small-town Durham to the big city next fall, especially considering the conference title banners hanging in the rafters of Agganis Arena. The Terriers have won three women's Hockey East tournaments and appeared in two Frozen Four finals in the past four years.
"I'm thrilled. I'm really excited," Crossley said. "I mean, BU obviously has a great program after winning Hockey East the past few years and I just think it will be something new and exciting for me.
Likewise, Armstrong is happy to make a move to Canton, N.Y., to play at St. Lawrence.
"It's more of a stable environment than there was this year," Armstrong said. "A new start for me will be the best idea."
After McCloskey was fired on Dec. 5 for "inappropriate physical contact with a player on the bench" during a home game against Ohio State on Nov. 30, the Wildcats went 3-13, losing the last ten games on their schedule. In the Hockey East tournament, they lost 8-1 to be Boston College. Despite this drop in performance, Crossley said the team felt united after losing their coach.
"Honestly as a team and as a whole, I think it brought us together more than ever before," Crossley said. "I think that was just because everyone knew that in order to keep the season going in a direction that we'd want and hope for that, we all had to put things aside and bring each other together and get stronger."
Armstrong and Crossley said it wasn't too strange to be spending their last days in Durham. Armstrong is simply putting her head down and focusing on school.
"I love Durham. I'm going to miss it," Armstrong said. "But at the same time I just need to get good grades and get out of here and start fresh up there."
Crossley called her final months at UNH "bittersweet."
"It's hard knowing that at the end of the semester I won't be here," Crossley said. "But I can assure you that I will be back a handful of times on campus next year, and one thing I keep hearing from my teammates is that once you're a Wildcat, you're always a Wildcat and that's really nice to know."
She recorded 23 points in her freshman season, the second-most on the team. In her sophomore season, she was named an alternate captain. She missed time in the fall due to collarbone surgery and ended her season with eight points in 25 games. She played point the power play for much of her time as a Wildcat.
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