And the Award Goes To…

The Division-I Lady Spartan hockey team’s season came to an end this past March in Delaware.

Michigan State earned a bid to nationals where they competed for a championship during the tournament, but unfortunately came up short.

The Spartans failed to advance to the semi-finals after losing their first two games (5-1 to Miami of Ohio and 4-3 to Rhode Island.) In their third and final game of the tournament, MSU defeated Michigan 4-3 in overtime.

Finishing third in their division was not good enough to move on and their 16-11-2 season came to an end

“If you’re not going to win a national championship, you might as well beat Michigan,” head coach Jeff Wilson said.

Fortunately, the Lady Spartans had one last celebration before the offseason officially began.

On March 23, the Spartans hosted their annual end of the year banquet at the University Club in East Lansing.

Along with acknowledging every player on the team, Wilson continued the tradition of handing out individual awards based on attitude, work ethic, leadership and character.

Six awards were given out at the banquet: the Jim Olsen Character Award, Spartan Award, Coaches Award, Captain Award and MVP Award.

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Jim Olsen Character Award

After being the assistant coach for the past nine years, Jim Olsen decided to retire at the end of this season. In his honor, the coaching staff decided to name the Character Award after him.

This award is given to the player or players that demonstrate great attitude, work ethic, and being a great teammate, along with skills on the ice and hard work within the classroom.

Junior forward Madison Van Antwerp and sophomore forward Hannah Lensing both received the award this year.

“Hannah has such a positive down to earth attitude about everything,” senior captain Alex Kann said. “She always has an uplifting attitude and she really does have great character.”

“Maddy is by far the hardest worker on our team,” Kann said. “If you’ve ever seen her at practice she’s skating full speed. You would think she’s playing for a national championship in practice. She works so hard and she continues to better herself every time she hits the ice.”

Both, Van Antwerp and Lensing will be returning to the team next season.

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Spartan Award

This award is given to the player who bleeds green.

Senior defensemen Annie Staples was given the award for her hard work throughout the season, but more specifically her final game against Michigan.

“It was a very close hard-fought game and Annie left everything on the ice in that game,” Wilson said. “It was very obvious to everybody that she played her best game she possibly could. She played like a true Spartan.”

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Coaches’ Award

This award is given to the player who distinguishes themselves as someone who the coaching staff would want on their team for another four years, does everything asked of them and works their tail off.

Senior forward Ashleigh Miertl was given the award.

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Captain’s Award

This award is given to the player that leads the team vocally and by example, along as within the classroom as well.

“This award doesn’t always go to the captain. Sometimes it will go to an alternate captain, but in this case it went to Alex Kann,” Wilson said. “She really signifies the leadership role she has on the team, not only this year, but for the three previous years before that. Just being a role model and someone who was really looked upon as a leader.”

Being an a part of MSU’s ROTC program, along with leading other teams throughout her career, Kann was honored to receive the award.

“I know the captains before me did a great job, so I knew I had big shoes to fill,” Kann said. “I tried really hard throughout the season to demonstrate my leadership.”

“I tried really hard to help everyone improve and kind of be their coach and friend at the same time. It’s nice to be recognized for what I did and it’s nice to be told that I did a good job at what I was trying to do,” Kann continued.

“It was an honor to be given this award.”

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Most Valuable Player Award (MVP)

This award is given to the player that would be missed the most on the ice, on the bench and in the locker room.

Sophomore forward Natalie Prisciandaro was given the award.

“It really never has to do with who’s the leading scorer or anything like that,” Wilson said. “Although she had skill and some scoring success on the ice, she received it for many other reasons.”

The Lady Spartans are losing three seniors to graduation, but Wilson said there won’t be a problem filling their roles.

David Defever is the host of Behind the Mask for Impact Sports.

Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports