During Friday’s women’s ice hockey game, an Oakland
player pushed sophomore Kristin Delong into the wall on the ice.
Delong’s teammate, junior Mary Catherine Finney, came to her
rescue by returning the favor. Through these actions, Michigan made
it crystal clear that if you mess with one Wolverine, you have to
deal with them all.

Even though the team consists of 16 women, they have each
other’s back and everyone has an important part to play.

“We are not a big team, so everyone has a role and does it
well,” said co-head coach Andrea Shear, who was on the team
last year.

After two losses and a tie to open the season, the Wolverines
believe the slow start may be due to the players’ struggle to
perform as a team. “(They) have individual skill,”
assistant coach Jackie Neal said. “But they need to work on
team skill — making plays and knowing where their teammates
are.”

Co-head coach Adam Winters is trying to fix the team’s
mentality by stressing the concept that every player is important,
both to the game and to the team.

The three captains, Stacey Moses , Cheryl Mervich and Darcy
Utter , are important to the team for the work they do off of the
ice. The trio helps the coaches schedule games, plan overnight
stays and maintain the team budget.

“They possess good leadership skills,” Winters said.
“They get the team pumped, always have a positive attitude.
They are a reflection of the coaching staff.”

Moses, Mervich and Utter are a reflection of the coaching
staff’s attempt at a new beginning. Last year, the team had
problems with their coaching staff. Neal said there was just no
chemistry.

“Last year was frustrating because everything was new
— the coaching staff, new players,” Neal said.
“We were losing games and the coaching staff was incompatible
with the team. It was also frustrating because we didn’t know
if things were going to work out (with last year’s coaching
staff) and it didn’t.”

This year, the “incompatible” coaches were replaced
with familiar faces, such as team alumni. Winters, who was one of
the few compatible coaches from last year, feels that the team has
found a good, nurturing coaching staff.

“This is a better coaching staff (than last year),”
Winters said “Our new players from last year have developed
and our new players this year are talented, strong skaters who have
good puck and stick handling.”

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