Often sandwiched in between men’s varsity hockey practice and intramural broomball games at Yost Ice Arena, the women’s club hockey team has little time to pencil in practice. But the women consistently finish the season as one of the top club teams in the nation.

After finishing 11th at women’s Club Hockey Nationals last season, the Wolverines are now looking forward to not only making it back to the tournament in St. Louis, Mo., but also improving on their placement.

“We had a great showing at women’s Club Nationals last year,” junior captain Cheryl Mervich said. “But we still hope to improve for next year.”

Losing just two seniors from last year, the goal seems realistic. The team has added four new names to the roster, including goalie Maggie Wagner. In addition to Wagner, senior goalie Jennifer Barnhart and sophomore Casey Caskey give the Wolverines many choices at goalie.

“We actually have three goalies this season,” Mervich said. “So far, we have played just three games and (the goalies) are just rotating, but eventually (Michigan) will get down to one starting goalie.”

Beginning the season in Ann Arbor with a win against Ohio State, the Wolverines followed the game with two losses to the Buckeyes and Michigan State. In the win against Ohio State, sophomore Megan Lobeck scored in the first and third period with assists from sophomore Hillary Eagan. Barnhard had 18 saves on 19 shots.

“The (first game against Ohio State) was big for us because we proved to ourselves that we were able to win,” Eagen said. “It’s always hard to come back from a successful season and win the first game, and we did.”

Still, the two losses are of little significance after the season opening win, according to Mervich.

“As a team, we are still trying to figure out how to win together,” Mervick said. “With all the talent and commitment we put into hockey, the wins will come.”

That talent speaks to the skill of the 13 returning players that the Wolverines will dress this season.

“We only lost two players to graduation this year,” coach Adam Winters said. “Both were contributing players, but last season we also had five freshmen that added to the team. This year we are going to see a lot from them.”

According to Winters, the new sophomores have a greater drive to beat the teams Michigan lost to, including Western Michigan, which beat the Wolverines in the division finals last season.

“One of our No. 1 goals, outside of Club Nationals, is to get back to (the division finals) and win,” Winters said. “We just have to keep our goals in mind throughout the season and stay motivated.”

But according to assistant coach Andrea Shear and the rest of the team, motivation is no problem.

“Everyone on the team is a dedicated athlete,” Shear said. “And they have proved that every morning when they wake up at six to come to practice and then again in the afternoon practice. We are a talented club, and hopefully the season will reflect that.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.