By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
After suffering somewhat of a setback at Michigan State University last weekend, the Miami University women's hockey team is looking to get back on the horse in time for the CCWHA Tournament this weekend in Flint, Michigan. The RedHawks (23-2-1) have an opening round bye in the Tournament after claiming the regular season conference title.
"We don't know who we'll be playing on Friday. We get the winner of Grand Valley State and Michigan State," head coach Scott Hicks said. "We're familiar with both, especially since we played them in the last month. It's better than last year when we had to play five games in five days."
Miami finally returns to full strength as Hicks, junior defender and captain Morgan McGrath, junior center Hayley Williams, sophomore center Katie Augustine, sophomore right wing Rachael Booth and sophomore right wing Kaley Mooney are back after representing Team USA in the World University Games in Spain the past two weeks.
The team has gone 3-1 in their absence.
"It's good to be back as a full unit again," Hicks said. "We're expecting positive results this weekend. When you're the No. 1 seed, you have a target on your back, but we have the talent and ability to defend our conference title. Winning the regular season was one of our three goals this year and we hope to knock out another one this weekend."
Williams and Booth, despite not playing the last four games for the 'Hawks, are second and sixth in the ACHA in scoring. Williams has 46 points and Booth has accumulated 43 points. Freshman left wing Carly Noble and sophomore right wing Cassidy Guthrie are not far behind them, with 33 and 30 points, respectively.
The play in net has been strong all season long as sophomore goaltender Emalee Wills (14-0-1) has a .922 save percentage, a 1.32 goals against average and four shutouts. Freshman goalie Carly Van Orden (9-2) also has four shutouts on the season as well as a .942 save percentage and a 1.11 goals against average.
The special teams have been big for the Red and White, as well. They are 20 for 32 on the power play.
"We're getting our players adjusted and being a full team again," Guthrie said. "We're getting to where everyone on the team feels that they're a part of it, something we've struggled with this season. For travel hockey, you play five games in five days so we'll be ready. The adrenaline will eventually take over and we're well conditioned. This weekend will be a challenge since we're the No. 1 seed and everyone wants to beat us and we have to prove ourselves."
The RedHawks begin play in the CCWHA Tournament 1 p.m. Friday when they take on the winner between Grand Valley State and Michigan State. The winner of that game takes on the winner of the University of Michigan and Adrian College/Robert Morris University 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The final takes place noon Sunday.