View from the Middle
If you want to get the scoop on what makes a baseball team click, as a catcher. He sees it all.
Likewise, if you want to know what makes a hockey line click, ask the gal in the middle. The good ones seem to have eyes in the back of their heads, and can thread those tape-to-tape passes to waiting wingers for proper burial.
Such is certainly the case with Wayne Stateï¿½s Lindsay DiPietro, who centerï¿½s D-Iï¿½s most prolific line.
With wingers Melissa Boal (29-22-51) and Sam Poyton (24-24-48) on her flanks, DiPietro (12-36-48) has racked up more helpers than anyone else in the country.
The trio, all of them juniors from Ontario, occupy spots No. 2, 3, and T-3 in the national scoring parade, with only Mercyhurstï¿½s Meghan Agosta (36-22-58) seated above them.
ï¿½Iï¿½ve got talented wingers,ï¿½ said DiPietro, dishing out compliments as deftly as she doles out pin-point passes. ï¿½Itï¿½s unbelievable. Just the plays they make, and just how they get open, (makes) it some much fun to play. I havenï¿½t had this much fun in a really long time.ï¿½
Fun for her, not so much fun for beleaguered backliners who have to try and stop her from stick handling through them.
Itï¿½s in that same slippery manner that DiPietro (ï¿½no, Iï¿½m not related to Rick, but I wish I was”), tries to swivel through a reporterï¿½s questions.
Such as, ï¿½so Lindsay, whatï¿½s the scouting report on your wingers?ï¿½
ï¿½And give away their strengths,ï¿½ she replied with a laugh. ï¿½Come on now.ï¿½
Reminded that there are no secrets in hockey, she shifts speeds and motors on.
ï¿½Both of them are pure goal scorers,ï¿½ she said. ï¿½Itï¿½s pretty easy when the find open ice. If you can get them a pass, theyï¿½ll put the puck in the net. It makes my job a lot easier.
ï¿½Mel is really fast. Her take off speed is just phenomenal. So she can beat a lot of players, one on one. Sam is bigger (5-foot-10, seven inches taller than Boal) and sheï¿½s more of a grinder. But a finesse player at the same time. Sheï¿½s not afraid to go into the corners and get the puck, which helps me out a lot. Theyï¿½re just phenomenal players, both of them. They have different assets, but they both put the puck in the net.ï¿½
Still, they canï¿½t finish without the puck, and thatï¿½s where DiPietroï¿½s own skills come to the fore.
ï¿½I think Iï¿½m good at seeing the open ice,ï¿½ she said, after a little prodding. ï¿½The fact that they can break into that open ice helps a lot. I like to pass the puck. Thatï¿½s no surprise. So I just try to find them. They just play off my ability to get them the puck. They make good plays, and I just dish it.ï¿½
A key to any lineï¿½s success lies in its ability to communicate. But each troika has itï¿½s own communication style.
With this bunch (somebody please, come up with a catchy name for them, huhï¿½), ï¿½mumï¿½ seems to be the watch word.
ï¿½You know,ï¿½ she said, ï¿½we donï¿½t talk a lot, to be honest. We just know where weï¿½re going to be. Weï¿½ve been together for so long. We just have a feeling. Theyï¿½ll call ï¿½Linds, Linds, Iï¿½m openï¿½. But for the most part, I can sense where they are, and I can make a lot of blind passes. Not to say I like to. But I can, knowing that theyï¿½re going to be there. I just tell them, ï¿½keep your stick on the ice, and Iï¿½ll find you.ï¿½ï¿½
Of course one canï¿½t discuss Wayne State pucks and avoid bringing up the impending demise of the menï¿½s team, which will disband after this season.
The sense of loss is felt deeply in the womenï¿½s dressing room.
ï¿½Itï¿½s disappointing,ï¿½ DiPietro said. ï¿½Having a menï¿½s program is like having 25 other guys who know exactly what youï¿½re going through, day-to-day. How long the season is, how grueling. They know exactly what we go through. So itï¿½s a really good support system. So for the girls who have close friends on the menï¿½s team, itï¿½s sad to see it go.ï¿½
DiPietro said itï¿½s up to the women to pick up the Warrior hockey banner and hoist it aloft.
ï¿½It puts a lot of pressure on us, now,ï¿½ she said. ï¿½But itï¿½s okay. At least weï¿½re still around and kicking.ï¿½
As we were saying, she sees the ice.
Every square inch of it.
Bowl Runneth Over
Not that the field for the NCAAï¿½s Hockey Humanitarian Award, now down to eight semifinalists, isnï¿½t worthy enough.
But you could make a case for adding precisely 5,377 more souls to the list of nominees.
Thatï¿½s the number of good-hearted people who streamed into Wisconsinï¿½s Kohl Center last Saturday for the contest between St. Cloud State (now No. 10) and the fifth-ranked Badgers.
The crowd, the largest ever for an NCAA womenï¿½s game, came out to root on their Badgers, the two-time national champions, in response to UWï¿½s ï¿½Fill the Bowlï¿½ promotion.
More importantly, a $1 donation from each ticket sold was made to the Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin.
ï¿½The event was a tremendous success,ï¿½ said UW spokesman Adam Augustine. ï¿½Since 5,377 fans showed up for the game, that amount of money was presented to Second Harvest following the game. That translates into roughly 37,639 meals for the local community.ï¿½
Oh, gosh by golly, thatï¿½s good goinï¿½, donï¿½t ya know.