Ex-Gophers not missed by this year’s pucksters

by Paul Markgraff

The absence of last year’s top scorer, Jenny Schmidgall, and defender Brittny Ralph didn’t hamper the Minnesota women’s hockey team this weekend.
Instead, the Gophers scored 20 goals on 88 shots and only allowed two goals on 28 shots. Minnesota pounded St. Cloud 10-1 twice, Friday and Saturday.
The Gophers applied extreme pressure on the Huskies goaltender, following each shot with at least two players to rebound and shoot. In the end, Schmidgall’s scoring absence played a very small role in the outcome of the game.
Coach Laura Halldorson isn’t worried about the loss of Schmidgall, who won a gold medal as a part of the 1998 U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team.
“Every year we have different personnel,” she said “This is a very close team. I think they work well together. I think we’ll do very well this season.”
Senior winger and good friend of Schmidgall, Shannon Kennedy, thinks that the Gophers will do better without Schmidgall, because Schmidgall wasn’t happy at the University.
She says it is more important to have players that are content with their situation because it allows the team to gel.
“I think it important to have people that want to be here,” she said. “I think it’s really important that we all want to be here all on the same page.”
And the Gophers defense was iron clad without Ralph as well. Time after time Minnesota would simply slide in under a forward and sweep the puck away without even touching the Huskie.
Which is not to say that the defense played a finesse game all weekend.
The Gophers racked up seven penalties on Friday night and seven Saturday afternoon. They hit hard when they needed to.
Even when the Huskies did manage to bring the puck up the ice and into the Gophers zone, the Gophers counterattacks came out of nowhere.
Ralph was not needed on defense.
Nadine Muzerall said it comes down to who steps up in the close games that matters.
“Definitely we’re going to lose some points,” said junior center Nadine Muzerall about the loss of Schmidgall. “But it’s not always about points. A lot of people rack up their points in games that are 10-0. It comes down to games that are 2-1 or 3-2.”
So after a pair of seemingly easy wins, does anybody miss Schmidgall or Ralph?
Not yet.

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