Graceful and forthcoming, Amanda Mazzotta has proven to be the perfect fit for the Quinnipiac Bobcats coaching staff. While Mazzotta established herself as one of the finest goaltenders in NCAA play, eventually being selected by the Brampton Thunder in the 2012 CWHL Draft, she has assembled a prolific coaching career since hanging up her skates.
Prior to joining the Bobcats for a landmark 2015-16 season, Mazzotta established herself as a prominent coach in her native province of Ontario. Working as a goaltending coach with the University of Western Ontario in the Southwestern community of London, she worked with the likes of goaltenders such as Kelly Campbell.
Mazzotta would follow it up with the Canadian national team, working with their U18 and U22 programs, along with a stint on Team Ontario at the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Gaining the opportunity to serve as a coach with Quinnipiac’s staff signifies another homecoming in her career.
Considering that the Bobcats participate in the ECAC Conference, it was the stage of several of her glories as a player for Mazzotta. Standing between the pipes for the Cornell Big Red, she would contribute towards a memorable run all the way to the 2010 NCAA national championship game in which hardcore fans remember her 61 save effort.
Having won 53 games with the Big Red, complemented by a sparkling 1.55 goals against average, Mazzotta was a key figure in the emergence of the program as a national power. Fast forward several seasons later, and Mazzotta has gained the opportunity to return to Lynah Rink, the Big Red’s home rink. Despite her presence as a member of the Bobcats coaching staff, returning to such a highly familiar venue resulted in a chance for fans to appreciate her efforts over four fantastic seasons. Such a friendly environment rekindled many fond memories for Mazzotta,
“Going back to Cornell this season was a lot of fun. I had such a great experience during my four years there and after transitioning to coaching in the league with Quinnipiac, I continued to receive so much support and well wishes from the Cornell community.
The experience itself felt a bit funny – everything from being on the visiting bench, to hearing the pep band and realizing they’re cheering on the other team. Lynah was home for so long though, so it was definitely a nice feeling to be back.”
Serving on the staff of first-year head coach Cassandra Turner, it was the opportunity for several milestones. Not only did Mazzotta make her mark on history, as she was part of a Bobcats team that won 30 games, making Turner the most successful first-year coach in NCAA women’s hockey history.
Adding to such jubilation was the fact that the Bobcats would end the season as ECAC Postseason champions. One week later, the Bobcats would host an opening round game in the NCAA Tournament, another program first. Having experienced the glory of an ECAC title as a player, the chance for Mazzotta to repeat the accomplishment as a coach was stirring yet awe-inspiring.
For so many of the Bobcats players, especially its graduating class, the title was a seminal moment in their careers, Mazzotta was proud to contribute to a coaching staff that helped guide them along such a victorious path, acknowledging the privilege of being part of program history.
“I was so spoiled in my first season at Quinnipiac. We had a fantastic group of athletes who were so driven to compete and excel on a daily basis in the classroom, and on the ice.
Being a part of a group that is able to accomplish ‘firsts’ for a program is always exciting and humbling. I am just so happy for this group of seniors who were able to cap off four years of hard work with an ECAC regular season title and ECAC playoff title. I feel fortunate that I was able to join them for their final year of Quinnipiac hockey.”
Among the Bobcats success is the fact that in the last three seasons, the program has experienced three starting goalies, all successful. Victoria Vigilanti, currently competing in Europe was followed by Chelsea Laden, who was part of the first trade in NWHL history. This season, Sydney Rossman, the recipient of the Minnesota Let’s Play Hockey Senior Goalie of the Year Award, earned the starting job and delivered on all accounts, with a superlative 30-3-5 mark that involved 16 shutouts, including the ECAC Postseason championship win against Clarkson.
Considering that it is one of the most demanding positions in sport, Rossman found a mentor in Mazzotta. It would prove to be an ideal situation where Mazzotta’s kindness and maturity flourished. Understanding the intricacies of the position, and more importantly, the expectation that comes with success, Mazzotta helped provide Rossman with the confidence to enjoy such a sensational season, quite possibly the highlight of her inaugural season with the Bobcats coaching staff.
“Syd is a fantastic goalie – I think it’s her willingness to push herself, compete on a daily basis, and just her outgoing personality that I enjoy the most when working with her. I appreciate her drive to improve everyday, her commitment to not make excuses, but most of all her ability to balance intensity with fun.
Goaltending is an interesting position – you have to be able to manage your emotions, manage your level of intensity, develop the ability to self-correct, self-evaluate and reflect, in the moment, and often fix problems that can’t always be fixed by ‘hard work’ – all while exuding confidence, whether you truly feel it or not, in order to keep your teammates in front of you in a positive place. Syd has a knack for doing all of these things, while still having fun. She’s a pleasure to work with.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Rob Rasmussen