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No. 1 MU hosts No. 2 Liberty

By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer

After having its winning streak snapped in a 1-1 tie to Adrian College last weekend, the No. 1 Miami University women's hockey team faces quite the challenge in building a new winning streak. The RedHawks host no. 2 Liberty University in non-conference action this weekend at the Goggin Ice Center.

The RedHawks (12-0-1) have a commanding 10-point lead in the CCWHA standings, while Liberty has a 13-1-1 record on the season. Liberty's last game was a 4-3 loss in overtime to the University of Rhode Island.

"It's a big weekend for us, like last weekend," head coach Scott Hicks said. "We're trying to stay focused. We're trying some different things in practice, because things can get repetitive at this point in the season, so we need to have fresh minds. They're good. They move the puck well, especially in transition and they have good fundamentals. They'll be a tougher challenge for us, more than Adrian, so we need to be prepared and expect the unexpected."

Miami has not allowed more than two goals in any game this year, while posting five or more goals in 10 games. Junior center Haley Williams and junior right wing Rachael Booth have been big for the 'Hawks as they both have registered 32 points on the season. Williams leads the team with 17 goals, while Booth is the team leader with 18 assists.

Nine more members of the Red and White have double-digit points on the season. Sophomore forward Cassidy Guthrie and sophomore center Katie Augustine have 21 and 20, respectively. Sophomore goaltender Emalee Wills and freshman goalie Carly VanOrden compose a nice netminder tandem for the Red and White, as they have a combined .940 save percentage and 171 saves between them.

Liberty has been rolling so far this season, as it has recorded six shutouts and seven victories by six goals or more. Senior center Carrie Jickling and senior center Sarah Stevenson have led the charge for the Flames with 25 points each on the season. Jickling has 15 goals with 10 assists, while Stevenson has nine goals along with 16 assists. Six other players also have posted double-digit points, including sophomore defenseman Marissa Graham with 21.

Senior goalie Chantal Lischynski has been dominant in goal for Liberty as she has a .6 goals against average with 126 saves. Junior goaltender Kristina Toppazzini has a 1.38 goals against average with 117 saves.

"We're having more diversity in drills in practice to keep us mentally fresh and have some friendly competition before we experience not-so-friendly competition," junior defender Jessica Gould said. "From playing Liberty last year, they have speed and want to set the pace of the game and probably want to come right at us. We have a target on us that comes with being champions, but it'll be a good weekend for us and we're excited for it."

The RedHawks host Liberty 9:15 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Goggin Ice Center.