Overtime pays off in home sweep of Minnesota State

by Zach Eisendrath

Sixty minutes weren’t enough Friday night. They weren’t sufficient Saturday afternoon either.

But with five extra minutes of play both days, Minnesota’s women’s hockey team was able to escape the weekend with a sweep of their pesky in-state rival Minnesota State.

The fifth-ranked Gophers (19-8-1, 14-7-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) won 4-3 Saturday afternoon at Mariucci Arena and 2-1 Friday night at Ridder Arena ” both in overtime.

“We made a pact before this weekend to overcome obstacles and stick together as a team,” sophomore forward Jenelle Philipczyk said. “I think we did that.”

On Saturday, all was calm until a scoring explosion erupted in the third period.

After Maggie Fisher’s shorthanded goal at the 18:55 mark of the first period gave the Mavericks (11-14-3, 8-12-2 WCHA) a 1-0 lead, both teams went scoreless in the second stanza.

But just when it looked as if the teams would have their fourth low scoring contest in as many meetings this season, a wild third period unfolded.

Minnesota came out with a higher intensity in the final period of regulation and it paid dividends right away.

Gigi Marvin snuck in front of the net to put the puck past Minnesota State’s junior goaltender Laura Brennan at the 4:56 mark. Sophomore Erica McKenzie assisted on the score. The pair quickly hooked up again less than a minute and a half later, giving the Gophers the 2-1 advantage.

“I thought in the third period we came out on fire,” coach Laura Halldorson said. “In the first half of that period we were just all over them.”

But every time Minnesota scored, the Mavericks seemed to have an answer. After Philipczyk put the Gophers up 3-2 with 2:11 remaining in regulation, Maverick junior Autumn Conway tied the game less than a minute later to force the extra session of play.

Then junior team captain Andrea Nichols gave the Gophers their second overtime victory of the weekend, striking just 58 seconds into the extra period.

“We battled all game and the bounces didn’t go for us right away,” Nichols said. “We just didn’t want to get frustrated, and keep on battling ” and it came out for us.”

Halldorson said: “It was just a seesaw battle there. For the coaches, I think there were some heart palpitations going on.”

On Friday night, Minnesota senior defender Ashley Albrecht turned into an unlikely hero.

After nearly 40 minutes of scoreless hockey, McKenzie scored the game’s first goal at the 19:32 mark of the second period.

Philipczyk, McKenzie’s newly inserted linemate, centered the puck to McKenzie, leaving only Minnesota State sophomore goalie Brit Kehler in her path, who McKenzie was able to put the puck past.

It looked as if the Gophers would be able to add to their lead in the third period after the Mavericks ” the most penalized team in the WCHA ” gave Minnesota numerous power play opportunities. But Minnesota was unable to convert, (zero of seven on power plays) leaving the door open just enough for the Mavericks to tie the game.

Midway through the final period, Mavericks junior Shera Vis slipped the puck past freshman goalie Kim Hanlon to force overtime.

“I could have got it,” Hanlon said. “I didn’t play it the best I could have. It was a lucky break for them.”

Although the Mavericks had the momentum in their favor after their late goal, Minnesota had a little swagger, thanks to their goalie.

“I knew we weren’t going to lose going into overtime,” Hanlon said. I told (the team), “We’re not going to lose.’ “

Hanlon’s prediction proved to be correct when Albrecht scored a breakaway goal ” her third of the season ” with 1:41 remaining in overtime to lift the Gophers.

Most of the team ” including Albrecht herself ” had no idea what to expect from Albrecht on the play.

“I have no idea why I was out there,” Albrecht said. “I have no idea why I was wide open.

“I think I was maybe getting off the ice or something. How it happened, I don’t really have an answer,” she said.

Halldorson said: “I had no idea what was going to happen. She doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to score on breakaways.”