Women’s hockey nabs pair of wins

by Paul Markgraff

Patience and persistence beget perfection. At least, that’s what the Minnesota women’s hockey team maintains.
Thanks to those methods, the Gophers swept a two-game series against sixth-ranked Dartmouth. Minnesota used strategies like taking a lot of shots, passing with confidence and patience, and working hard on the power play to win 5-4 Friday and 4-3 Saturday.
Minnesota looked like it had regained the confidence and momentum it lost after dropping two games to Duluth last weekend.
Saturday, the Gophers faced a Dartmouth team riled up from a last- minute loss to Minnesota the previous day. Unfortunately for the Gophers, they came out a little slow. Halfway through the first period, the Gophers were down 2-0, but they stuck to their game plan and sophomore winger Laura Slominski netted Minnesota’s first goal of the game.
“Ambria Thomas and Laura Slominski continue to play really well,” said Gophers coach Laura Halldorson. “They’re our leaders on the ice right now.”
The second period was a model of consistency for the Gophers. They allowed one goal, but junior center Nadine Muzerall scored one on the power play.
And in the third, all of Minnesota’s hard work finally paid off. Thomas put in a power-play goal early in the period to tie the game and freshman center Ronda Curtin scored the game-winner with under two minutes remaining.
Though the Gophers had to come back to win, they outshot the Big Green 41-24 and went 2-for-4 on the power play.
“I don’t think they played much differently yesterday than they did today,” said Dartmouth coach Judy Parish Oberting. “We’re just having trouble being consistent.”
Actually, the Big Green were pretty consistent. They lost by one goal on Saturday and by one goal on Friday as well.
On Friday, the game started much like Saturday’s. Through the first period, Dartmouth led 1-0. So far this season, Minnesota has had a difficult time recovering after being scored on first.
But this weekend it was different. The Gophers came back on Friday and Saturday because they played with patience and confidence.
So through the first period and a half, it was anybody’s game.
Then junior defender Winny Brodt must have snapped. Brodt went on a scoring spree, netting one goal and four assists, and playing a part in all five of Minnesota’s goals.
Brodt skated around the rink before the third period started, coming within feet of the returning Dartmouth players, as if to personally challenge the Big Green.
“She gets a head of steam going,” Halldorson said of Brodt. “Winny starts carrying the puck and she’s a threat that they have to worry about.”
But then Minnesota’s defense faltered late and let Dartmouth tie the game with less than a minute left. Junior defender Courtney Kennedy provided Minnesota with the game-winner with 11 seconds left to go in a wild finish.
“It was chaos,” said Halldorson of the last three minutes. But Brodt, in the style of Minnesota’s renewed confidence, put it best.
“All week we practiced shooting the puck,” she said. “It was really weird because I knew we were going to score.”

Paul Markgraff covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected].