Women’s hockey picks up momentum

by Monica Wright

The women’s hockey team put the painful 7-0 loss to the U.S. National Team on Jan. 7 further in the past by sweeping both Bemidji State and Minnesota State in a five-day period over break.
Despite the wins, sixth-ranked Minnesota is still recovering from the U.S. National Team thumping.
“It was close, it was 1-0 about halfway through,” Gophers coach Laura Halldorson said. “When the U.S. National team comes, they expect to be scoring goals. They beat Wisconsin 12-0 the night before and they have a good team.”
The game against the national team wasn’t the only loss for Minnesota. Gophers junior defender Megan Milbert is out with a shoulder injury, possibly for the season.
That leaves the Gophers with just five defenders on their roster. Despite the thin bench, Halldorson isn’t worried.
“We’ve played with four defenders before, and (forward) Ambria Thomas had a few shifts on defense (against Minnesota State), just in case,” Halldorson said.
Despite Halldorson’s calm about the team, junior Nadine Muzerall is feeling pressure to perform because of uncharacteristically low statistics to start the season.
“My numbers are way down. I’ve gone from leading the nation in scoring my freshman year to wherever I am now,” Muzerall said. “I don’t know what’s going on. I just have to get going.”
Stepping up in Muzerall’s wake is junior Winny Brodt. Brodt had six points and tied a school record with five assists in the second game against Bemidji. She was also named a “star of the game” after her two goal, one assist effort in the first Minnesota State game.
“It didn’t start out that way, but I’ve gotten more involved with the offense,” Brodt said.
With victories as large as 11-1 against Bemidji during the 1998-99 season, Minnesota had a surprisingly small 4-2 win in the first game of the series, something Muzerall sees as positive for the WCHA.
“The level of play is much better this year,” Muzerall said. “Bemidji State has almost a whole new team from last year. Hockey in the Midwest as a whole is getting better.”
Next up for the Gophers is another series with Bemidji State this weekend.

Monica Wright covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]