Women’s hockey preparing to face Missouri Hurricanes

By Chris Cook

It has been a rough season for Illini women’s hockey. They remain winless, with two games coming up against the Missouri Hurricanes, a team they struggled significantly against in the early season.

In spite of the bad record, head coach Sebastien Boutet is not making excuses.

“I do feel like we are a bit underachieving,” Boutet said. “But overall I think it’s just that we’ve played better teams.”

There have been plenty of games, however, where the Illini could have slipped away with a win. In addition to a couple of ties against X-Factor and Chicago Inferno, they have lost four of 14 games by two goals or less.

“At times we seem to run out of gas,” Boutet said. “For whatever reason, we’ve made some mental errors down the stretch, and they’ve definitely cost us.”

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Nevertheless, there are several bright spots to take into account, and the team hopes to build on those efforts.

“All our players are improving nicely,” Boutet said.

Defender Sharon Honecker said the bad record does not dishearten the team and the players remain positive and confident in each other.

“Even though it’s not reflected on the scoreboard, I’m having the most fun that I’ve ever had as a part of the club,” she said. “The thing that stands out in my mind has to be the level of respect that the members of our club have for each other and the support that we draw from each other.”

Boutet said the team can finish the season on a better note. He said he is especially hopeful about the state championship March 11-13, which the Illini won last season. The toughest opposition will most likely be X-Factor and Chicago Inferno.

“I’d like to see us use the things we’ve learned in practice this season to win the state championship and advance to regionals,” Honecker said.

These things include speed, which Boutet said is the team’s main concern.

“We’ve had a tendency to get outrun,” he said.

Honecker said the team’s talent level might improve if it joined the American Collegiate Hockey Association, which would help with recruiting better players. The only problem is the requirements the ACHA sets for players, which includes only five years of eligibility, a certain GPA and no history of playing at other schools. As it stands now, this would leave the team with fewer than 10 players.

Still, Honecker said joining the ACHA would strengthen the women’s hockey program.

“The switch would be a great opportunity for our team to gain some recognition and to attract more skilled players,” she said.

“There are probably some very talented hockey players that attend the U of I that have no idea they have the opportunity to play on our team.”