The Penalty Box: 2 Minutes with Scott Hicks
About 2 years ago, we sat down with Miami Women’s Club Hockey Head Coach Scott Hicks to discuss the newly formed Women’s team on campus. Over the last 2 years, a lot has happened with his team and today, the Lady RedHawks are on fire.
Miami finished atop the CCWHA Women’s Division 1 standings, earned their first ever #1 national ranking and headed into conference tournament play with a record of 21-2-2. Five games later, the Lady RedHawks had allowed just 2 goals and had 4 shutouts in their utter annihilation of the competition in the CCWHA postseason tournament. They finished the season with a 26-2-2 record and are headed to Newark, Delaware for the National tournament for their shot at a national title, which starts today.
Blog of Brotherhood (BoB): Last time we interviewed you we wanted to know how you got your start. This time, you’re an established team and headed to nationals this week as a likely favorite to take home the whole thing. Give us an update on how the team looks 2 years later.
Scott Hicks (SH): The make up of our program is completely different than it was just two short years ago. We are heavily involved in the recruiting process and have made some changes to how we operate to give these kids the best experience we can and something that they deserve. We are finally starting to get kids who are not only great hockey players, but great people and great students. These kids are coming to Miami to play hockey. Without it they wouldn’t be here, and that makes a big difference on the mindset of your program.
BoB: Despite being a club hockey program, you are now recruiting a good number of young women to the team and the quality of play is climbing quickly. How are you growing the program so well?
SH: The one thing we always tell people is we won’t be out-worked. This is the #1 reason why we have gotten to where we are. We put a lot of time in traveling to showcases to watch players, and recruit. We make ourselves as visible as possible. This has made a lot of people more aware of us for one thing but has also given us credibility.
Our biggest asset is the University itself. The academics make us extremely appealing to several high end players. There really isn’t anything for Women after college, so academics is extremely important to these kids – as it should be. They are starting to realize that there are very few differences between us and any NCAA D-III program.
Some of the biggest differences are that the NCAA level is several hours each day, where we put a program in place to go just an hour a day. Along with that, the fact that a majority of the D-III schools don’t have the academic prestige of a Miami or the campus life of a Miami, it gives us a big edge in the recruiting and is the big reason why we have been able to get some of the players that we have. More kids are starting to realize that we are a better option and other programs like us around the country are better options. That only helps increase the level of play and makes the game much better.
The other big plus is our facility. It’s better than any other option you could get at the D-III level.
BoB: Rachael Booth and Katie Augustine are your leading scorers. Talk to us about their success this season.
SH: Both girls are just tremendous people. They work hard on and off the ice and they are extremely talented. These are two that fit the mold of what I just talked about in your previous question. Both had looks from D-I NCAA schools but wouldn’t have gotten a lot of playing time. Both could have gone to any D-III school they wanted to, but the saw the value in a Miami education and fell in love with the campus when they visited.
Both continued their tremendous success and are our top two scorers. Rachael is a point shy of the 50 point plateau and Katie has been just as consistent. We leaned heavily on both of these two during the conference tournament, that’s for sure!
BoB: In addition, your group of 10 freshmen has been pretty incredible as well. How much have they made an impact on the team already this year?
SH: Every single freshman we have brought in has made a tremendous impact on our program. Every single one of them has contributed. Our defense has been given a big upgrade with the additions of Lily Christensen and Catie Karpinski. Our forward group got a big shot in the arm with the addition of those 6 up front.
Besides Augustine and Booth, Kaley Mooney has been on a tear in the second half. She is a kid who was injured early in the year and missed a lot of time in the first half. She benefited from having the holiday break and came back lighting the league on fire. She was named freshman of the month for January and has added some big jump to our offense.
Cassidy Guthrie has also been a huge addition, she has a tremendous motor and has really fit in well with fellow freshman Jordan Hanson and Sophomore Izzy Smith who is continuing to add to her great freshman year with a solid start.
I can’t talk about the freshman class without talking about Emalee Wills. She has been better than advertised. She has been sensational this year. Just to give you an idea of how good she has been, she let in one goal one weekend and her goals against average went UP.
With Mooney getting healthy it has really allowed us some options up front to mix things up and has really been able to give us balanced scoring. We are no longer a one line team or a team where you can shut down one or two players and stop us.
BoB: Speaking of Emalee, your goaltending has also been outstanding this season.
SH: We have a great situation in net. We have a Senior in Dana Lovin who has been our horse the last 3 years and she will most likely see more time than Emalee. But Emalee is making that decision harder and harder each week with her play.
Those are things we want, tough decisions. She knows the situation and has embraced it. The best thing is the two of them get along so well, and Dana has sort of taken Emalee under her wing and that will be big for us in the future.
Dana has continued to be a rock for us and as the season has wound down she has elevated her play. Picking up 3 shutouts out of 4 games played at our conference tournament and lowering her GAA more than a half a goal in the second half.
BoB: What do you think about being the #1 ranked team? You’ve held that spot all season, so is it something you forget about and just play?
SH: Its something that we have decided to embrace. We know the target is on us and to the girls credit, they have constantly risen to the challenge, taken the best our opponents have and answered the bell. We are extremely proud to have carried the #1 ranking throughout the season and to have the top seed at the National tournament.
BoB: Morgan McGrath and Katie Augustine were named to and played on Team USA for the World University Games in December. Rachael Booth was named as an alternate. This has to be a great recruiting tool for you and your coaching staff?
SH: We talked about Katie a little before and she earned this spot. For a freshman to be named to this team is an unbelievable accomplishment and one I know she is extremely proud of and very deserving of.
Morgan has been a staple for us in her first year and half on campus. She is our shut down defenseman who we really try to match up against the opponent’s top player. She sees about 40 minutes of ice a night and her condition level is tremendous. She is coming off a First team all-conference selection as a freshman. She was a unanimous selection to Team USA and it couldn’t of happened to a better person.
Rachael got on the radar late and it is tough for freshman to get on the roster but it was hard to ignore her performance to start the year and she earned the alternate position. The great thing for her is she has a tremendous opportunity to make the roster in 2015 because of her performance.
BoB: In 2011 we interviewed you in November and on the eve of your game against Michigan State – then the defending national champions. This year, I spoke with you just before you took on Minnesota – another powerhouse program. What kind of example have teams like this been to your program?
SH: This is a great question. We have tried to model our program after Michigan St. and Grand Valley St. They have done things the right way in recruiting and how the operate. 2 years ago I got a little inside look at that. You get to know the coaches and I was fortunate to form a relationship with former Grand Valley St. head coach Corey Whitaker (who is now an assistant at Lindenwood University – an NCAA Division I program). He was a tremendous help in educating me on how things operate at his level and what it takes to compete at this level.
Most of it? I had no clue. It was an eye opening conversation and something I am extremely grateful for. I owe a lot to Corey and his insight but it helped us from our program and put things in place that we feel has made us better and a much more desirable place to come.
BoB: You’ve beaten Minnesota, Adrian College and Grand Valley State – several times each, I might add. How are you going to finish it out this year?
SH: Ha! I guess we will find out. I know one thing – we set 3 goals this season. We have accomplished two of them by winning the regular season title and the CCWHA conference title. Adding a National tournament title to that would just be a spectacular ending to what has only been a magical season. We know we can compete, we have gone up against the cream of the crop and knocked them off going 10-1-2 against the teams that will be at Nationals. Our mission now is to make sure we are well rested and prepared to face what will be our toughest challenge of the year!
Well there you have it. 2 minutes (okay maybe 3-4) with Scott Hicks.
In the National Tournament, Miami will face off against Michigan St. on March 13th at 11:00 am. Later that night, they take on Michigan at 8:30 pm.
We’ll keep you updated as much as we can on @MiamiHockeyBlog, but give a follow to @MiamiWHockey for live updates this weekend.