Women's hockey wins CCWHA championship
A Miami hockey team is heading to the national tournament after winning its conference championship, though it's not the one some might expect - in this case, the women's program is leading the charge for Miami's first-ever ice hockey national championship.
In just their third year of existence, the RedHawks have established themselves as a hockey powerhouse playing in the CCWHA; that is, the Central Collegiate Women's Hockey Association. This year's record of 26-2-2 is the best in the country and Miami will almost certainly hold onto the top seed in the American Collegiate Hockey Association women's Division-I rankings heading into Newark, Del.
Senior forward and captain Nikki Stancampiano is tied for seventh among RedHawk scorers with 19 points, which speaks to the deep talent that runs through the roster. But the reason for her team's success, according to Stancampiano, is much more than just skill.
"The relationships we have on the team are so strong," the Fairport, N.Y. native said. "We're such great friends off the ice, and ... I'm real proud of everyone individually and our team as a whole."
The RedHawks will catch a few days of down time before preparing for their final weekend.
"It's really exciting, but right now we're going to rest a little bit and take a day or two off," senior goaltender Dana Lovin said. "Then we're going to get right back at it and try to fine tune some of the things, and making sure we stay in shape so we're ready to go when we get there."
Though she gave credit to her defense as the primary reason for Miami's dominant play in the CCWHA tournament, Lovin was spectacular between the pipes. In five games, she recorded four shutouts, including the 2-0 winning effort in the championship matchup against Adrian College. That's a 0.4 goals-against average over her last five starts.
Head coach Scott Hicks, who is still a few months shy of 30, said he cannot stress enough how proud he is of his team, which consists almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores, and how hard they've worked all year to position themselves as a favorite. That status was apparent after the way they bowled through Ohio State University, Grand Valley State University, and Adrian in Flint, Mich. He was complimentary of the goaltending and in the leadership displayed by Stancampiano as well, but his enthusiasm and appreciation of the overall team effort was apparent.
"We were fortunate to get a good draw," Hicks said. "But we played a full team effort, and we only gave up two goals in five games ... these girls deserve a lot of recognition and a lot of support from their fellow students. Women's hockey isn't the brand that the guys are, but these girls put the time in on and off the ice and they deserve the accolades for sure."
Miami travels to Newark to compete March 13-16 for the National Championship. You can check out the RedHawks' progress at www.muwomenshockey.com or connect with them on Twitter @MiamiWHockey.
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