By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
After devastating Ohio State University last weekend, the depleted No. 1 Miami University women’s hockey team now packs its bags for Flint, Michigan as it squares off against Michigan State University. The RedHawks (22-1-1), regular season champions of the CCWHA, have made a go of it despite not having head coach Scott Hicks and five players due to the World University Games in Spain. The Spartans (8-6-3) are in seventh place in the CCWHA standings.
“It was a good weekend for us,” assistant coach Jim Stearns said. “We responded well and we accomplished what we wanted to, and it’s nice that we did it against Ohio State. Michigan State is a good team and they’ll be a challenge for us. We’ve had some great games with them in the past and they’re fighting for a playoff spot, so we need to be ready and do our thing and get ready to go.”
The departures for the ’Hawks have not stopped them from scoring as senior defender Lindsey Ellis and freshmen forwards Alyssa Vissali and Carly Noble recorded hat tricks last weekend against OSU. Noble is currently the team leader in goals, excluding the departures for Team USA. Vissali is the overall team leader in penalty minutes with 26 and has seen the sin bin in five of the last six games.
Sophomore center and points leader for the current squad Cassidy Guthrie, junior forward Izzy Smith and sophomore forward Jordan Hanson also found the back of the net against the Buckeyes. Baldwin had four assists in the OSU series while Guthrie, Noble, Hanson and Senden each tallied two.
The offense as a whole has been on a tear since the 1-1 tie against Adrian College, as it has tallied multiple goals in each of the last 12 games and put up 117 shots on goal against Ohio State.
The defense has been stellar for the ’Hawks, registering shutouts in their last three games. Sophomore goaltender Emalee Wills and freshman netminder Carly Van Orden have a combined save percentage above 93 percent, with Wills exceeding 200 saves on the season.
“We’ve just been working on our puck handling and being able to take passes and maneuver around defenders with our puck movement,” sophomore defender Catie Karpinski said of the week in practice. “We’ve done a good job of stepping up and having fun. If we show up this weekend, we have a great chance of winning. Now we have to step up again and just play simple hockey.”
Michigan State is ready to get a win at home, as it has lost its last three games. Sophomore forward Lyndsay Oden leads the Spartans with 18 points on the season, while junior goaltender Julia King has had an up-and-down season as she has three shutouts and a .889 save percentage.
“We’ve been working on our conditioning and faceoffs,” Stearns. “We’ve worked on our power play and penalty kill as well. It’s been great to see the players get used to each other so quickly, which will be helpful this weekend.”
The RedHawks hit the road to take on Michigan State 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m Sunday.