THE BLADE/LORI KING Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Save the special treatment, Lindsey Roshon just wants to make saves. Don't pull up on a hit, Erin Miller would be offended.
Roshon, an Ottawa Hills senior, is a goalie. Miller, a Springfield sophomore, is a forward. And they prefer to be called hockey players, not female hockey players.
Miller said she felt immediately accepted when she began playing against the boys when she was 9.
"It's no different. We're just playing hockey," she said.
While Miller said she wants to be treated as an equal, she said some foes will take it easier on her.
"Some of them will back off," she said. "But others will go full force. I'm playing that way, too. That's why I love it."
Roshon said her teammates, some of whom she has played with for 10 years, never made her feel like an outsider.
"They weren't weird and it just wasn't abnormal," she said. "They didn't treat me any differently. I've played with the boys my whole career. It never really scared me."
Ottawa Hills coach Tom McKinch said Roshon has been very well accepted on her team and in the Northwest Hockey Conference.
"You kind of forget that she is a woman," McKinch said. "But I respect her because of it. She fits right in. The kids really respect her."
McKinch said Roshon have never looked for special attention.
"She is just a goalie," he said.
Springfield coach Don Dahmer said the only difference from the rest of the team is that Miller gets ready in her own locker room.
"She is one of the guys," he said. "She sits in the back of the bus laughing and joking."
Dahmer said he is impressed with Miller's ability to take the physical punishment.
"She's taken a beating, but she bounces back up," he said. "She's getting hit as hard as or harder than the guys. But she is not small and she's used to physical contact. She's a strong athlete."
Miller and her coach believe she has an advantage over the boys because she has to think more. She must play with finesse not brute force.
"You have to think of what you are going to do before the play starts," she said. "I try to think of what I can do to get better."
Miller, who is ranked sixth in her class, has a 4.25 grade-point average.
"I'm not the strongest so I have to think about what I need to do," she said.
While Roshon said she can stick up for herself, she admitted her defensemen may be a bit more protective during scrums in front of the net and shoving after the whistle.
"My team really backs me up," she said. "I'm a goalie and a girl. The team will take care of me. I never get harassed."
The unwritten rule in hockey is to protect your goaltender at all cost, but Roshon said she thinks her teammates take it to another level.
"We have another goalie that isn't female and you can tell the difference," Roshon said. "They still protect him. But they're not as urgent or immediate. If anyone comes near me, my team is right there. There's an extra sense of protection. I never feel alone out there."
McKinch agreed that Roshon's teammates try to protect her.
"If someone is chopping away at her, they jump right in there," he said.
But off the ice, Roshon is treated like any other member of the team.
"It's really interesting sometimes because they act just like they normally would," she said. "That is a compliment. They respect me and I respect them. They do think of me as a teammate."
Dahmer said that he only has 13 players, so he must be able to count on Miller to do the right things.
"She's a very reliable and responsible player," Dahmer said.
Dahmer said he will put Miller on the ice at even strength, on the power play and penalty kill.
"She plays well in every situation," he said. "I can always count on her being in the proper position."
Miller, who has two assists this season, scored her first goal in a game against Fremont Ross last season.
"It was the last game and I tipped it off my stick," she said.
Dahmer said Miller has received praise from coaches at camps, including one at Ohio State.
Miller said she first thought of playing after seeing Kathy Deorgiadias, play on her brother Patrick's team at Springfield.
"That's why I wanted to try it," she said. "I just hung out with my brother and I wanted to be like him."
Roshon said she has developed a hybrid style that consists of both the butterfly and standup style that is popular today.
McKinch said Roshon is smaller, so her emphasis is to come out and cut down angles. He said Roshon is as calm as any goaltender he's seen.
"She does not get rattled," he said.
Roshon said the biggest highlight so far was being named most valuable player at the Martin Luther King tournament when she was a sophomore. She finished with 50 stops in a loss against Central Catholic, a team that is in a higher division.
"The whole game we were getting shelled," she said. "By the end of it I had 50 saves. That was a big memory. It was nice to get recognized."
The Ottawa Hills program has struggled in recent years, so Roshon has had her fair share of facing 50 to 60 shots each night.
"I'm used to having those kinds of games and I perform so much better in those. It's better than facing just 15 or 20 shots," she said.
McKinch admitted that Roshon's record is not so good because the program has been in a slump. But he said her save percentage is consistently in the 85 percent range.
"She faces a lot of in close shots," McKinch said. "We are not St. John's. We give up 50 or 60 shots some games and they are not shots from the blue line. They are in tight."
Roshon said she was first hit with the hockey bug when she was 7. She said she got hooked on watching the Red Wings, particularly goalie Chris Osgood.
"I started playing when I was about 7. I just remember watching hockey on TV and I decided I wanted to try it out," Roshon said. "Chris Osgood was my favorite player."
Roshon said she liked the idea that the fate of the game usually hinged on the play of the goalie.
"I like being in on every play and being able to control the game," she said.
McKinch said the increasing presence of female hockey players is directly correlated with the increase in women's college programs.
"There are a lot of scholarships out there," he said. "It's a good thing. If they can play and compete at this level then I'm all for it."
Roshon said she will most likely play club hockey at Ohio State.
"The women's programs have exploded the last few years," she said.
Roshon and Miller have played against each other in the NHC Blue Division.
Roshon said she is aware that Anthony Wayne also has a girl on its team. Freshman Chloe Spencer is 2-1 with a 3.33 goals-against average. She's faced 64 shots and has made 54 saves (.844 percentage).
"I watched her play. We know what each other has gone through. It's an unspoken thing," Roshon said.
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com or 419-724-6354.