Northern Michigan University women’s club hockey team squared off with Miami this past weekend for their season opener.
The ’Cats started their season opener Friday, Oct. 5, at the Vandament arena coming up short 3-0 along with Saturday’s game 5-2 against Miami University. The ‘Cats played vigorously for 60 minutes, but in the end Miami’s offense came out with the win.
“I feel that our team played two very good games, no matter what was shown on the score board,” said freshman center Amanda Crandell. “We went out there being unfamiliar to each other’s mind sets of the game. There is always room for improvement and I feel as the season continues our breaking out and passing will definitely improve.”
These were the first two games the ‘Cats played with new incoming freshmen and replacements from last year’s roster.
“I feel that we need to work on getting open for passes as well as gaining control of the puck,” Crandell said.
The ‘Cats are determined to improve their skills as a team and build better communication between each other as the season continues.
Starting goalie for their season opener, Michelle Kerry thought the team played well for their first time playing with new teammates but feels there are areas that need improvement and consistency.
“I think our team did well for our first two games,” Kerry said. “Not many of us have played with each other before, but we tried our best. We need to improve our communication on the ice and making sure our passes are to our players.”
Kerry said there is need for improvement as the ‘Cats had 18 shots on goal during Saturday’s game and Miami totaled 49.
“The communication was not all there this weekend. The girls on Miami were taking shots from just about every angle they could,” Kerry said. “In the future we need to work on pressuring the players to the outside and not letting them walk in and shoot from the slot.”
First year head coach Leo Smith knows his team’s capabilities and understands what needs to be accomplished for the team to succeed.
“I told the players they have to get to the puck faster, to be able to have time to set up and break out of our zone. We are a team with grit, a hard skating team, a North-South type team,” Smith said.
Smith’s goal is to build a strong team as he eyes for the playoffs.
“We need to wear down the opposing team, our breakouts have to improve and we need to learn to have more patience with the puck and be able to handle the puck better,” Smith said.
The ‘Cats look forward to the rest of the season as they have six remaining home games and eight away games.
The ‘Cats get some time off to prepare for their next matchup with Michigan State University at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20 at the Vandament Arena and 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21.