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NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College women’s ice hockey team and head coach Erin Hamlen are pleased to unveil the team roster for the 2015-16 inaugural season that gets started on Friday night.

Related Links: 2015-16 Roster

“Our staff has worked diligently on recruiting talented individuals who we think will embody the Merrimack Women’s Hockey core principles,” said Hamlen. “By design, our roster is small and we’re looking forward to players having the ability to be put under pressure from our opening game.  We have student-athletes who made their respective Under 18 or National Team, those who were in the final stages of representing their country, and many who were the top athletes on their respective teams. We’ll look to make our mark on Division I hockey from the start.”

Of the 21 players on the final roster, there are seven defensemen, 11 forwards and three goalies. Thirteen players on the roster are from the United States., while six hail from Canada and one from Germany. The American players represent seven different states (Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Vermont), and the Canadians come from four different provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan).

Since the announcement of the 12 players that signed their National Letters of Intent during the Early Signing Period, the Warriors have added five more freshmen to their roster. They include Baye Flanagan (Billerica, Mass.), Felila Manu (Anchorage, Alaska), Kate Kowalchuk (Calgary, Alberta), Jessica Kuhlman (Severna Park, Md.) and Samantha Saulnier (Somerville, Mass.).

The journey to the inaugural season began in 2014, when the team brought in their first four players to be the originating class of the program in now sophomores Jackie Pieper(Edina, Minn), Jillian Battista (Tonawanda, N.Y.) and Chaislyn Burgio (Quincy, Mass.) and junior Marie Delarbre (Fussen, Germany). “This is a unique year in that we only have four returners on our very young roster,” Hamlen noted. “I anticipate that this group will lead both by example, and vocally.  After working with our coaching staff last year, they developed skills that will add a measure of experience and maturity within our team.”

Along with Burgio, the other goaltenders on the roster are Kowalchuk and freshman Samantha Ridgewell (Outlook, Saskatchewan). “In any program, but especially a new program, goaltending is critical to success,” said Hamlen. “The two goalies that we have recruited to join Chaislyn this season are highly competitive individuals who have come from successful high school careers. I anticipate that one of our biggest strengths as a team will come from our success in the net.”

After more than two years of recruiting, scheduling, roster-building and planning, the hard work and countles hours put in by the coaching staff will finally pay off when the Warriors finally take to the ice for their first games in the coming days.

“Opening up with St. Cloud will be an incredible experience,” Hamlen said about the start to the season. “The WCHA is a well-respected league, and having the home ice on our first weekend of play will be a great way to showcase Merrimack Women’s Hockey to the public. Our non-league schedule is made up of opponents from all four Division I leagues. There will be so many firsts throughout the season, and hosting UNH and Maine on Homecoming weekend to start our league play will be very special.”

The Warriors begin their inaugural season on Friday with a 7 p.m. exhibition with Whitby Wolves of Ontario, Canada, at Lawler Rink. They officially kick off the 2015-16 campaign with their historic home- and program-opener against St. Cloud State on Friday, Oct. 2 at 6 p.m.

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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