MARK COUCH | SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
With two games left to play, the St. Norbert Green Knights women’s hockey team is 12-8-1 this season, with a 7-6-1 Northern Collegiate Hockey Association conference record. They have earned 15 points this season; that’s good enough for third place in the conference standings. They currently sit three points ahead of Concordia and four points ahead of St. Scholastica.
In just her first season as head coach for the Green Knights, Meredith Roth has a chance at coaching her team into the Slaats Cup Playoffs. Only the top four teams in the NCHA make it to the playoffs, so the Green Knights have to finish the season strong and hold onto one of those final two playoff spots.
Regarding her first season behind the St. Norbert bench, Roth said, “I’ve really enjoyed it a lot. A lot of credit goes to the players buying in and busting their butts to make the season fun.”
But it isn’t just about having fun on the ice. Roth came here to win. Her team is in good shape heading into the playoffs.
“The players’ energy and the way they show up to play” are only two of the strengths Roth has pointed out about her team this season.
At the time of this writing, it looks like the Green Knights are going to face Lake Forest College (18-1-2) in the playoffs. “I think we match up well against them,” Roth commented. “We’re physical, we compete hard and we skate really well.”
Lake Forest has a great offense led by Michelle Greenway, who leads the NCHA in goals (29) and is second in points (40). Roth says St. Norbert’s success will be built on their ability to “forecheck, backcheck and get numbers around the puck to take care of the middle of the ice.”
There are parts of the game that Roth thinks the Green Knights need to clean up before the playoffs begin.
“We need to tighten up our situational awareness defensively and our transition defense,” she disclosed. “We’ve been getting better at it every game, and I expect us to continue to grow.”
St. Norbert is going to need great defensive play against Lake Forest, a team that averages 4.52 goals per game.
Coach Roth is optimistic in her outlook on the playoffs, praising her team, saying “Our seniors and captains have shown great leadership all year.”
Hopefully, those seniors can lead this year’s team to a strong regular season finish and into the St. Norbert record books as champions.