St. Cloud State hands Gophers a winless weekend

by Nick Heronimus

The Minnesota women’s hockey team struggled against St. Cloud State in a penalty-filled series.

The Gophers tied the Huskies 4-4 Friday night and lost 2-1 Saturday afternoon. In the series, Minnesota had 20 penalties, which led to numerous power-play opportunities for St. Cloud State.

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ohio state
what: Women’s Hockey
when: 7 p.m., Friday
where: Columbus, Ohio

“We want them to work hard and play aggressively, but we need to be a little smarter,” head coach Brad Frost said.

The loss marks only the second time the Gophers (2-1-1, 0-1-1 WCHA) have lost to the Huskies, and it is the first time since 2001.

On Friday night, the Gophers took an early lead, but allowed St. Cloud State to creep back into the game.

“When you get up on a team in our house in particular you have to put them away,” Frost said.

Minnesota seemed to have control of the game when they took a 3-1 lead in the second period.

Sophomore Michelle Maunu picked a loose puck up in the Gophers’ zone and fired a pass ahead to freshman Jen Schoullis. Schoullis passed to Erica McKenzie, who had to reach behind her to control the puck, and McKenzie converted the two-on-one opportunity to the 3-1 Gopher lead.

But the Huskies would mount a comeback due to Minnesota penalties.

St. Cloud State (1-2-1, 1-2-1 WCHA) countered by scoring a power-play goal on a rebound from junior Amy Currier. The Gophers were out of position on defense and could not recover quickly enough to prevent the goal.

This trend continued early in the third period when the Huskies used a methodical array of passes to convert on a power play against Minnesota. Sophomore Meaghan Pezon put away a pass from Danielle Hirsch to tie the game at 3-3.

“If we would have moved our feet and done little things we wouldn’t have those penalties,” sophomore Brittany Francis said.

St. Cloud State continued their scoring with a goal by junior Megan McCarthy. McCarthy scored on a short pass from sophomore Felicia Nelson to put the Huskies ahead.

Minnesota recovered when Francis knotted the game up for good at 4-4 by knocking in the puck off a rebound.

In overtime neither team took control of the game. Overtime saw both Minnesota and St. Cloud State receiving penalties and both teams threatening to score, but both came up empty.

The Gophers’ other two goals came from senior captain Bobbi Ross and junior Gigi Marvin.

Saturday’s game put the finishing touches on a disappointing series for Minnesota.

The Gophers found the defensive effort they had been looking for in previous games, but were not able to combine that with enough offense to beat the Huskies.

St. Cloud State jumped out to the early lead when junior Sammy Nixon scored a goal 3:35 into the first period.

Minnesota responded later in the first period to tie the game at 1-1. Junior Rachael Drazan scored on a one-timer. Drazan was assisted by senior Anya Miller and Marvin.

That would be the one and only goal for the Gophers. Minnesota had 25 shots on the night, but could not slip more than one by Husky senior goaltender Kendall Newell.

“We didn’t get enough shots on net,” Drazan said.

Newell was a key ingredient, along with the rest of the St. Cloud State defense, in preventing Minnesota from scoring, Frost said.

Neither team scored in the second period. The Gophers had their best offensive period with 13 shots but could not convert on their chances.

Another penalty by Minnesota in the third period would be too much to overcome and lead to their defeat. The Huskies converted the power play when Pezon scored her second goal of the series.

The Gophers struggled offensively in the period and had only 5 shots.

“Were not going to panic,” Frost said. “We’re going to keep on doing what we’re doing.”