Muzerall comes back with vintage performances

Monica Wright

Last February, when senior Nadine Muzerall was leading the nation in goals, power play goals, power play points and game-winning goals, she had an easy way of dealing with the attention.
She ignored it.
“In a few years no one is going to remember who scored the most goals and who had the most points in the 1999-2000 season,” Muzerall said at the time. “But they are going to remember who won the national championship, and that is what I care about.”
After the Gophers brought home the championship title and Muzerall ended the season as the team MVP, it would seem the pressure would be off.
But with a new season comes new expectations, and for Muzerall they were sky-high. Everyone from Sports Illustrated for Women — who picked Muzerall as the preseason player of the year — to Muzerall herself was planning a repeat performance.
“I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure after last year to perform and have a decent season,” Muzerall said. “But I like the pressure. I won’t settle for less than what happened last year.”
The pressure mounted after Muzerall faced a major setback in October. After a concussion and a violation of team rules caused her to miss two series, respectively, Muzerall knew she had to deliver more points in less time.
In the weekends following her benchings, Muzerall said she felt hesitant and rusty on the ice.
But last weekend it was clear that Muzzy is up to a comeback challenge.
On Friday, Muzerall dominated the 5-2 win over Wisconsin with her first hat trick of the year.
Saturday proved to be more of the same as she scored the game-tying goal in Minnesota’s 4-4 tie with the Badgers. The goal was Muzerall’s 200th career point and 119th goal as a Gopher.
With Muzerall’s season clearly on the upswing, teammate Laura Slominski said the goals should inspire the team.
“It helps having someone like Muzzy who can really bury the puck,” Slominski said. “We’ve had some problems with that this season but when we see her doing it, it gets us started and others will follow.”
But in typical Muzzy style, she refuses to accept praise unless the rest of the team can be acknowledged too.
“I have great linemates, and Slominski and Ambria Thomas had great games this weekend too,” Muzerall said.
Reflecting on her time off in October, Muzerall said any goals now look good in comparison to the bench time.
“I sure wasn’t scoring in the stands.”
Monica Wright covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]