September 27, 2017 – The Saints of Aquinas look to move from CCWHA Division 2, up to Division 1 after a preliminary 2017-18 season playing against Division 1 opponents. They have joined the ACHA Division 1 league for the 2017-18 season as well.
In their inaugural season, 2015-16, the Saints went 12-12-2 in ACHA and CCWHA play, putting in 122 goals for and allowing 106 goals against. Marlower Pentecost grabbed 47 points (23g, 24a) in that first season, two goals coming on the power play and four game-winners. Isabelle Piotrowski put up 40 points (28g, 12a) in her freshman season. Piotrowski tallied two power play goals, two short-handed goals (tied for team lead with Katelyn Graczyk) and four game-winning goals (tied for team lead with Pentecost). Brooke Forgar registered 35 points (19g, 16a) to finish the top three point leaders for the first Aquinas season. Forgar grabbed one short-handed goal and two game-winners. Holly Ensley was the lone goaltender for AQ for the 2015-16 season, averaging 4.04 goals against and making 711 saves. Ensley also put up a .870 save percentage.
The Saints took on three different Division 1 level teams in their first year, Grand Valley State, Robert Morris and Davenport, where Aquinas finished 0-3. Against Division 2 level teams, they had five sweeps, all against CCWHA teams, Loyola-Chicago, Central Michigan, Lake Superior State and Michigan-Flint. In their series against Loyola University, the Saints picked up a sweep with 11-2 and 11-1 wins. In the 11-2 win, goals came from Piotrowski (2g), Forgar (3g,2a), Pentecost (1g, 4a), Graczyk (1g,1a), Maria Manko (4g, 2a). Ensley between the pipes picked up 20 saves on 22 shots on net. The second eleven goal win had points coming from Piotrowski (2g,1a), Forgar (3g), Pentecost (2g,1a), Graczyk (1g,1a) and Manko (2g,3a). Ensley made 21 saves on 22 shots on goal.
Throughout the 2015-16 season, Aquinas has eleven wins with a 3 goal or more margin.
In their first CCWHA playoffs, the Saints went 0-3 in round robin play, with losses to Michigan State (4-2), Northern Michigan (7-3), and Notre Dame (6-2). During the 4-2 loss to MSU, Ensley made 28 saves on 32 shots faced while Maria Maguire (1g) and Graczyk (1g) put the pucks in the net. Forgar and Sydney Johnson each picked up an assist.
In the loss to NMU, Ensley grabbed 27 saves on 34 shots, Forgar (1g), Johnson (1g) and Graczyk (1g) put in the three Aquinas goals. In their final playoff game and to end their first season, the Saints faced off with Notre Dame, where Piotrowski (1g) and Pentecost (1g,1a) tallied the goals in the 6-2 loss. Ensley made 26 saves from 32 shots and Maguire registered a single assist.
The 2016-17 season brought on tougher opponents and more Division 1 play for Aquinas, while still in the Division 2 CCWHA and ACHA leagues. With an 11-14-3 season, the Saints tallied 128 goals for and allowed 136 goals against.
In her sophomore season, Piotrowski led the Saints with 44 points (22g, 22a) and one powerplay goals, led the team with two short-handed goals and one game-winner. Pentecost was among the leaders in points for a second season as well with 43 points (28g, 15a). Pentecost put in four power play goals to lead the team, and one game-winning goal. Kaitlyn Dailey joined the top ranks in the most recent season, posting 35 points (21g, 14a) for Aquinas. Dailey tallied two power play goals and one game-winner.
Ensley returned for her second season, this time splitting time with newcomer Caitlin Miller. With an 8-11-2 record Ensley averaged 4.90 goals against, picking up one shutout and a .872 save percentage. Miller saw time in net to earn a 3-3-1 record with a 3.99 goals against average. Miller and Ensley each registered a single shutout during the 2016-17 season.
Aquinas scheduled six different Division 1 opponents, including Midland University, Grand Valley State, Ohio State, Adrian College, Robert Morris and Davenport. The Saints came away with a 1-8-2 record against the Division 1 foes. The single win came against Ohio State University (4-1), with the ties coming against Ohio State (4-4) and Midland (5-5).
Aquinas registered eight wins with a 3 or more goal margin last season.
In their second playoff appearance, Aquinas had the same opponents as the 2015-16 playoffs, Northern Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame. The Saints did not move on from pool play again, but tallied a 1-3 playoff record. With an 8-4 loss to Northern Michigan, goals came from Piotrowski (3g) and Pentecost (1g). Graczyk (1a) and Dailey (2a) had the three helpers while Ensley stopped 31 of 39 shots on goal.
Their lone win during playoffs came against Michigan State, 5-4. Piotrowski (1g), Pentecost (1g), Graczyk (1g), Manko (1g), and Allessandra Sorenson (1g) tallied the Aquinas goals. Ensley was in net once again, making 28 saves on 32 shots from the Spartans. Their second loss came against Notre Dame, 7-4 with points from Dailey (2g), Johnson (1g), and Kelly Labarge (2g). While in net for what was thought to be the final game of the season was Ensley who made 24 saves on 30 shots faced.
The Saints received an invitation to the ACHA National Tournament a few weeks later, and would make the trip mid-March for the first time. During their time on the big stage, the Saints played two games, and picked up two losses, unfortunately unable to move on to the semi-finals. Aquinas played against Navy and Lakehead University, who would later go on to be the Division 2 National Champions. Dailey led the Saints in points at the National Tournament with a goal and an assist, while Graczyk (1g) and Johnson (1g) also made it onto the score sheet. Ensley and Miller both saw time in net, with Ensley averaging 5.33 goals against, 82 saves and a .911 save percentage. Miller averaged 12.00 goals against with a .700 save percentage.
Aquinas opens their third season within the ACHA, their first season in ACHA Division 1, and their preliminary CCWHA season, with the defending Division 1 National Champions, Miami University. The Saints travel to Goggin Ice Arena on Friday, September 29 and Saturday, September 30 for their first road series. The Saints will open at home against Michigan on October 22.
Author: Mackenzie Smith, Communications Manager
Graphic: Mackenzie Smith