Following a memorable run that saw the BC Eagles become only the second team in NCAA women’s hockey history (and the first in Hockey East conference play) to experience an undefeated regular season, the program has welcomed a world-class player and world-class individual into the fold.
Bringing an exceptional hockey résumé, highlighted by three Winter Games gold medals, Gillian Apps is poised to provide the acumen and strong leadership that should help the Eagles maintain its status as a national power while building on the remarkable momentum of a milestone-filled season.
Extending an exceptional playing career with an exciting coaching role, Apps joins head coach Katie King-Crowley and Courtney Kennedy, a pair of former accomplished players that have also experienced the milestone of international competition. Rounding out the group includes volunteer assistant coach Alison Quandt.
Considering that the graduation of Alexandra Carpenter from the Eagles preceded the arrival of Apps, this unique transition in program history is part of a unique hockey crossroads that sees both world-class talents uniquely intertwined.
International hockey served as the backdrop with the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships resulting in Carpenter enjoying her debut with Team USA. The event would prove to be Apps’ final appearance for Canada at the IIHF Worlds, which took place on home ice in Ottawa. The second chapter took place at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. With Carpenter competing at the Games for the first time, the golden outcome for Apps and her Canadian counterparts would signify her swan song.
With a freshman class that looks to build on the legacy of Carpenter, while keeping the Eagles competitive, the guidance of Apps shall prove to be essential. Of note, said class includes seven players, including five forwards. Taking into account that she is also in her first season with the Eagles, Apps has the opportunity to grow into her role, while serving as a mentor for many promising players hoping to blossom into cornerstones for the Eagles.
Among the freshmen forwards who should benefit from Apps’ acumen includes Delaney Belinskas and Bridget McCarthy, who played at the junior level with the Mass Spitfires. Another pair of teammates, having graced the ice with the Connecticut Stars includes Kate Annese and Caitrin Lonergran. The tallest forward in the group is Rachel Moore, a 5’9” skater whose background includes the Bay State Breakers. In discussing the type of values that she would like to try and instill, the aspects that transformed Apps into a world champion shine through,
“I would like to think that it is a lot about finding the right mix of being a good teammate, a competitor, and a good person. We can always be learning- from our experiences and from each other. If we can all come to the rink everyday and strive to learn something, to get a little bit better, and to have some fun, I think I’ve done my job.”
Among the members of the Eagles roster, there is also another proud linkage to Hockey Canada. Eagles assistant captain Kristyn Cappizzano, who captained Canada to a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championships, enters her senior season with the Eagles, poised to provide leadership while approaching the milestone of 100 career points.
With the Eagles enjoying a very solid 9-3-2 start, highlighted by Katie Burt’s solid goaltending between the pipes, there are a lot of positives to build upon. Highlighted by defeating No. 3 ranked Quinnipiac, to three wins against New Hampshire, along with an undefeated mark at home, Apps’ acumen for the game is helping to build confidence among many of the squad’s newer faces.
From Caitlin Lonergan establishing herself as a scoring sensation, highlighted by her selection as the Hockey East Rookie of the Month for October, to Delaney Belinskas’ impressive 11 goals, along with Makenna Newkirk building on last season’s Rookie of the Year campaign, it has allowed the Eagles with a solid cornerstone. Along with the positive example set by the older players, it has allowed for a positive transition for Apps, who has found happiness in the exceptional team culture,
“I love the feeling of family. We have such a great group of people involved in our program- I feel very fortunate to be here.”
Undoubtedly, Apps awaited return to hockey is one of the feel-good stories of the season. No stranger to New England hockey fans, Apps assembled a sensational playing career with the Dartmouth Big Green, logging 158 career points on the strength of 90 goals while graduating as the ECAC Player of the Year. Coincidentally, this season also sees Dartmouth gaining another unique Hockey Canada connection. Laura Schuler, who has served as Canada’s head coach since 2015, undergoes her inaugural season as big Green head coach for 2016-17.
For Apps and the Eagles, the ultimate goal is the opportunity to capture an elusive Frozen Four championship. Although the Frozen Four title seemed within grasp for Apps and a highly competitive Dartmouth squad, it was not meant to be. Sadly, this was a similar scenario for the Eagles earlier this year, as their first-ever appearance in the national championship game resulted in the Minnesota Golden Gophers extending their own dynasty. Undoubtedly, a national championship, especially in her inaugural season at Chestnut Hill would signify an exciting milestone.
“I would be so proud of the girls. I came close as a player, but never got it done. It would be pretty special.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Hockey Canada images