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Women's Hockey: Wildcats moving on

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, December 9, 2013

Updated: Monday, December 9, 2013 20:12

Despite the sudden firing of UNH women’s hockey head coach Brian McCloskey last Thursday, assistant coach Stephanie Jones said she does not expect McCloskey’s firing to hurt the team’s focus in the coming semester.

“Obviously, it’s not something you would wish on a team at all, but they’re a strong group and we believe in them, and they believe in us as [coaches], and I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to coach,” Jones said.

In regards to working as co-leaders of the team with assistant head coach Jamie Wood for the remainder of the semester, which ended Sunday in terms of games and will unofficially end after this week when the team will hold a captain’s meeting, she said the two are able to focus on the team’s aspirations, not on who is in authority.

“Jamie [Wood] and I, we’ve worked together now, this is our fourth year together, and, you know, work very well together,” Jones said. “And it’s not about us, it’s about them. Jamie and myself are great leaders and our players are great leaders, and we look at it as ‘we’re a team’, not ‘who’s in charge’ or anything. We’re just getting it done.”

The team’s captain, senior forward Nicole Gifford, said her job is to keep her teammates thinking positively.

“It’s tough,” Gifford said. “It’s a hard thing to take, and there’s different emotions obviously in the dressing room, but for me as a leader I just need to pull this thing together, whether how I feel about the situation or not, it’s our season, and we’re not going to let this happen and ruin it. It’s my senior year, we’re going to go out with a fight and we’re going to keep it together and regardless of who’s on the bench behind us, it doesn’t matter to us.”

Jones is confident in Gifford’s ability to lead the team as captain through this time of adversity.

“It’s a challenging time, but Gifford believes in UNH and will do whatever is best for her teammates,” Jones said.

UNH senior forward Jessica Hitchcock came to UNH in 2012 after her coach at Niagara University was fired, followed by the program’s end. Hitchcock learned from that experience that the important thing is to keep looking forward.

“You’ve got to look past it,” Hitchcock said. “You’ve got to move forward, got to stick with the team, and stick together, stay positive in the locker room and the bench and things work out. It’s weird how things work out, but we’re all sticking together, looking forward and hopefully moving on.”

 

Max Sullivan can be reached on Twitter @MaxSullivanLive

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