Story by Sam Kaser, Staff Writer
Image courtesy of aqsaints.com
The Aquinas women’s hockey team looks to continue their winning ways as the regular season begins to wrap up. The Saints have played just two games since coming back from the holiday break, and are 1-0-1 after tying and beating Northern Michigan University in Traverse City.
Throughout both games, the Saints saw 12 shots find their way past the Wildcats netminder, coming from the sticks of eight different players. Goalie Ally Kennedy stopped 77 of 88 shots on the weekend.
The win on Sunday ended a five-game winless drought the team had been battling through, and measures as a much needed boost of confidence as they roll into this coming week. Feb. 2-3 will see the Saints take on the Lakers of Grand Valley State, who are undefeated against Aquinas since the program’s inception three years ago.
The Saints have fought through 17 games this season, bringing home a record of 6-10-1. The squad has been impressively competitive on home ice, resting at 3-3 with just one game remaining at Southside. Outside the friendly confines of their Byron Center home, the team has struggled to find wins, going 2-7 in their nine games on the road. With five games left in the 2017-18 campaign, however, the group will be battle tested with four on the guest bench.
After GVSU, Coach Katie O’Brien and her troops will march into South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, before heading to East Lansing to take on MSU to round out the regular season. As the season has rolled on there have been a few ups and downs, as any season proves to bring. Throughout the trials, however, the mainstead of the team have continued to perform. At the forefront is Izzy Piotrowski, leading the team with 17 points in 15 games. Right behind the prolific scorer is Maria Manko and Kaitlyn Dailey, raking 16 and 12 points respectively.
As for the back end, Ally Kennedy has been a rock for the Saints as a freshman, having an impressive .887 save percentage. The netminder has faced over double the amount of shots her team has produced, and continues to lead her team every weekend.
As the regular season comes to a close, the playoffs loom large for a team with high expectations. With a young group learning from the veteran leadership who made a trip to the National Tournament last year, the expectation level for a National Title is ever growing. What lies next for the women’s team is unforeseen, but behind core leaders and hard fought defensive efforts, the future will bring good things to a young program.