By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
After clinching the CCWHA regular season title with wins over Ohio State University, the still depleted Miami University women's hockey team closed out the regular season with a 6-3 win and a 2-1 loss to Michigan State University. The loss was just Miami's second of the season. The RedHawks (23-2-1) have a bye for the conference tournament this weekend, while the Spartans (9-7-3) play in the opening round Friday.
"We played well this weekend," assistant coach Jim Stearns said. "The line of Izzy Smith, Katie Baldwin and Carly Noble were outstanding in the games, getting five out of the six goals on Friday. We had one bad period on Saturday, but it was a good series."
In the first game against Michigan State, freshman left wing Carly Noble went off for Miami, as she had three goals and two assists in the game. Linemates junior forward Izzy Smith and sophomore forward Katie Baldwin tallied two goals and three assists, and a goal and four assists, respectively.
Baldwin and Smith both accounted for goals in the first period before Sparty answered early in the second with a goal of its own. Noble found the back of the net less than a minute later, but MSU scored again with 14 seconds left in the period. Smith and Noble both scored before the 8:00 mark and Noble scored again after a response from Michigan State.
Sophomore goaltender Emalee Wills played great, as she stopped 20 of 23. Miami did a good job of attacking on the other end as it reeled off 30 shots on goal.
"Carly scored early on in the first period, then we played strong and didn't score until three seconds left in the period," Smith said. "In the second, our intensity slowed down and Michigan State picked theirs up and tied it. We came back in the third and picked our intensity back up and scored three goals. We played well on Friday."
The line of Smith, Baldwin and Noble also made its presence felt in the second game as Smith scored at the 10:04 mark of the first period off a pass by Baldwin. Michigan State responded with an equalizer with 6:45 left in the second and took the lead on a power play goal after the 9:00 mark in the third.
Freshman netminder Carly Van Orden had a strong showing in the loss, tallying 23 saves. The Red and White were outshot 25-22 on the day.
"Me and Katie Baldwin had a 2-on-1 opportunity in the first and I went top shelf for the goal," Smith said. "In the second period, we slowed our intensity down again and Michigan State got goals in the second and third periods, but we were able to keep it close the whole way. We were down five players, but we need to work on keeping our intensity up. We'll be facing more competition next weekend so we'll be better prepared."
The RedHawks now turn their attention to the CCWHA Tournament in Flint, Michigan. They take on the winner between No. 4 seed Grand Valley State University and No. 5 seed Michigan State 1 p.m. Friday.