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Miami captures conference title

By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer

Miami University women's hockey claimed the CCWHA Tournament title this season after downing Grand Valley State University 6-2, and beat the University of Michigan 2-0 and 4-2. The RedHawks (27-2-1) have won the tournament for the second consecutive year, despite being a league member for only three seasons.

"Winning the tournament was what we were hoping for," head coach Scott Hicks said. "We got better as the weekend wore on and our players were able to adapt despite not being together for a couple of weeks. We need to carry this momentum into nationals. We've made a big statement to our league and the country and told that that we mean business. We just need to stay unified and keep on grinding."

In the matchup against Grand Valley State, junior center Hayley Williams made her presence felt as she racked up two goals in the first period and two assists overall. Sophomore right wing Rachael Booth collected two goals in the second and third, and an assist. Freshman defender Nicole Matthews opened up the scoring with an unassisted goal 4:33 into the game and junior defender Morgan McGrath rounded out the scoring off a feed by Williams with 6:01 left in the contest.

Miami was outshot 30-24, but leaned on sophomore goaltender Emalee Wills to get stops and she did, making 28 saves. The penalty kill unit helped out as well, fending off seven power play opportunities for the Lakers.

Miami kept on rolling in the next game against Michigan as sophomore right wing Kayley Mooney capitalized off a Williams pass on the power play at 19:10 in the first period. Matthews rounded out the scoring for the day in the second with goal at the 3:32 mark with the help of sophomore forward Jordan Hanson and freshman center Katie Baldwin.

The 'Hawks outshot the Wolverines 36-22 as freshman goaltender Carly Van Orden recorded her fifth shutout of the season.

The Red and White hooked up again with the Maize and Blue, winners of the consolation bracket, in the finals. Again the 'Hawks struck early as two goals by Booth in the first and another by Williams in the second gave the team a 3-0 lead. Michigan responded with two goals of its own in the period, but Jessie Gould scored with 2:24 left in the second as neither side scored the rest of the game.

Again the Wolverines were outshot, this time 45-34, as Wills made 32 saves on the day. Booth was named Tournament MVP, with six points over the course of the weekend.

"This weekend was amazing," Wills said. "We had it easy only playing three games but we really worked hard in those games and there's not much else you could ask for. We need to keep grinding it out in practice and work on our systems a little bit, working on the little things. This weekend, teams couldn't keep up with us, and if we put it all together a championship will come to us."

The RedHawks compete in the ACHA National Tournament in York, Pennsylvania March 4-8 as they pursue a second straight national championship.

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