Hanover, N.H. — About the only time anything went right for the Minnesota women’s hockey team this weekend was when the Gophers’ bus started Sunday and took them away from top-ranked Dartmouth (10-0-1).
Not only did the No. 2 Gophers (11-4-1) drop two games – 4-0 Sunday and 5-1 Saturday – but they also lost one of their top defenseman. Minnesota freshman defender Bethany Petersen suffered a severe concussion during the third period of Saturday’s game.
Petersen was in the corner behind the Minnesota net with two Dartmouth players when she took a little shove while she was off-balance.
She hit the ice and slid head-first into the boards.
After laying on the ice unconscious for 25 minutes, Petersen was put on a backboard, given oxygen, wrapped in a blanket, and taken to a nearby hospital for tests and observation. She was released Sunday and even made an appearance at the Gophers’ game with a plastic neck brace on. It’s unknown if Petersen, who has a history of concussions, will ever pick up a stick again.
“The problem is, she has a history of concussions so she’ll have to go through a battery of tests when she gets home and see our doctors,” Halldorson said. “And I think the fact that she was unconscious for 25 minutes – that’s not a good sign.”
While the Gophers were heartened to see Petersen walking around the locker room after their game, her absence made a difficult weekend even harder on a young Minnesota defense. Petersen’s 10 assists are tied for second among Gophers defenders and it’s safe to say Minnesota missed her presence Sunday.
“That was a huge loss for today’s game,” Halldorson said. “She’s probably our second-best on ‘D’. Last year we had Winny (Brodt) and Courtney (Kennedy) and one of them was always on the ice. This year, we have Courtney — either Courtney or Brittany, so that hurt us. We could’ve used her today.”
Without Petersen in the lineup, four different Dartmouth players scored and four others had assists in Sunday’s 4-0 loss.
True to Minnesota’s weekend, the defense wasn’t the only problem in Sunday’s loss. On a day where the Gophers weren’t allowed to use their locker room during the game due to a steam leak, the Gophers were shutout.
It wasn’t for a lack of chances. Call it a lack of finishing.
After Dartmouth went up 1-0 two minutes into Sunday’s game, Minnesota fought back. Five minutes in, Minnesota’s Laura Slominski found herself alone in front of the net, and put a shot on Dartmouth goaltender Meaghan Cahill.
Cahill made the stop and the shot rebounded out to Tracy Engstrom, who couldn’t get a shot off because the Dartmouth defense had already recovered.
That was Minnesota’s day in a microcosm: The Gophers had plenty of first chances, but very few second chances, thanks to a burly Dartmouth defense.
“It was very frustrating for us, because we’re used to scoring a lot of goals, and to come in here and not have goals…,” Gophers winger Nadine Muzerall said. “We haven’t had that before. We broke down on the power play; we haven’t had that before. They were big and physical and just cleared us out of there.
“We knew their goalie was going to give up a lot of rebounds, we just couldn’t score.”
It was a problem that plagued Minnesota all weekend — but for top-ranked Dartmouth, everything went just as planned. After some shaky one-goal wins over top-ranked teams, the Big Green were out to prove itself this weekend against the second-ranked Gophers.
“We started talking about it Saturday that anybody can play well once, but if you beat these guys two games in a row, then you are making a statement,” Dartmouth coach Judy Oberting said. “They’ve been quietly going about their business. They’re excited that they’re playing well and (making a statement) is what they feel like they’ve achieved.”
The win opened Halldroson’s eyes – eyes that have seen enough of Dartmouth for a while.
“It seemed they were very up for us, and knowing that they are capable of playing this well, they are definitely No. 1,” Halldorson said.
Jim Schortemeyer covers Dartmouth women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]