SPRINGFIELD, MA (03/03/2021) After a year and a half in the making, the Western New England University women’s ice hockey team will officially open its historic inaugural season on Saturday, March 6 when it takes on Nichols College. The game is scheduled for a 4:20 p.m. start time and will be played at the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield, WNE’s home ice.
On June 12, 2019, Western New England University announced the addition of women’s ice hockey as the institution’s 20th varsity sport to begin play during the 2020-21 academic year.
“Our team could not be more excited to take the ice for our first game in program history,” says Head Coach Katie Zimmerman. “With the presence of COVID-19, we knew coming into this season that it would not be like what we all envisioned for our first year, but it has been so rewarding and special in its own way. We have already experienced so many “firsts” together and our journey has finally built up to this-our first game,” she said. “Our coaching staff is so inspired by the incredible optimism, patience, and resilience that this team has shown despite all of the roadblocks and speed bumps along the way. We have committed ourselves to preparing for this opportunity and we will never forget the moment that the puck drops.”
Before joining Western New England University, Coach Zimmerman was the assistant coach at Amherst College. She also has coaching experience with USA Hockey and SUNY Cortland. Zimmerman is a 2013 graduate of Hamilton College, where she enjoyed a four-year playing career. She was a two-time All-NESCAC honoree, leading the Conference in goals scored in her junior and senior seasons. Zimmerman earned D3hockey.com All-East Region accolades as a senior. She holds a Master’s degree in Coaching Education from Ohio University.
“A major shout out of thanks goes to our Athletics administrators, University leadership, and everyone inbetween who helped make this a reality,” Zimmerman said.
“While I am tremendously proud to be serving as Director of Athletics for this momentous occasion, I would be remiss not to acknowledge that this is the culmination of a lot of hard work that started long before my arrival,” said Director of Athletics Matt LaBranche. “In a way, this weekend we are officially welcoming women’s ice hockey into Golden Bear Country and I want to take this opportunity to thank the countless people across campus that have worked behind the scenes to make this day a reality.”
“Coach Zimmerman has assembled a team of quality student-athletes that have already made a positive impact on campus. It takes a special type of athlete to choose a first-year program,” LaBranche added. “These women accepted the challenge of laying the foundation for future success. For that we are already indebted, and these women will always have a special place in Golden Bear Athletics. I know they will represent Western New England in a first-class manner, and I can’t wait to see them compete on the ice.”
Details on how to watch the game or follow the live stats can be found in the “FANZONE” on wnegoldenbears.com. Hover over “FANZONE” and head to “Game Day Central” for links to watch the game, follow along the live stats, and see the digital game program.
For the latest on women’s ice hockey, follow the team on social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For the latest on Western New England Athletics, follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Having just celebrated its Centennial, Western New England University is a private, independent, coeducational institution. Located on an attractive 215-acre suburban campus in Springfield, Massachusetts, Western New England serves 3,690 students, including 2,486 full-time undergraduate students. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs are offered through Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the School of Law.