Women’s hockey is not for the weak of heart.
With three key injuries (broken hand, torn ACL and strained back) to three key players, the Michigan women’s club hockey team (6-3-1) is bruised and battered, but that didn’t keep it from remaining near the top of the Central Collegiate Women’s Hockey Association standings. This weekend the wounded Wolverines swept Western Michigan at home with a 5-1 victory on Friday and 7-1 trouncing on Saturday night.
“It’s pretty rough out there,” senior captain Victoria Deleeuw said. “With three players hurt and only 17 members on the team, we are currently playing with a short bench.”
Limited numbers have placed a greater demand on the healthy leaders, who have responded accordingly. Junior forward Meghan Collier netted two hat tricks, and Jacqueline Neal produced 10 points on offense over this past weekend. These performances created an extremely uneven matchup.
“The Western Michigan goalie made good saves, but we came with over 60 shots, and our goalie only saw about 12 shots,” Deleeuw said. “We basically out-shot them, and it made a huge difference.”
This increase in offensive production was something Michigan coach Hal Krenkel worked on after losses against division-favorite Northern Michigan and a tie with Michigan State earlier in the season. The result: 26 goals in the last four games, helping the team manufacture a four-game winning streak.
“All year we had issues of getting the puck in the net,” Krenkel said. “We worked a lot on our skating, and I now feel we’re the best skating team on the ice. We found more creative ways of scoring after the losses, and it seems to be working.”
The team is looking forward to avenging its losses to Northern Michigan in the upcoming rematch on Jan. 19.
“Northern is on top but we’re much better now, and I certainly think we can handle them,” Krenkel said.
Of course, a sound victory against long-time rival Michigan State would also be desired.
“We got into a fight with State earlier this year,” Deleeuw said. “The games against State are always intense, and it’s a fairly even matchup between us.”
If these key games go as planned, the Wolverines are hoping to contend for the national championship in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. But in the end, Michigan wants to make sure it accomplishes the ultimate objective of playing a club sport.
“Our most important goal is to just have some fun,” Krenkel said.