Back on track, women’s hockey team tops in WCHA, third nationally

by Monica Wright

After what would be defined in “Muzzy-speak” as a shaky start to the season, senior and last year’s national goal-scoring leader Nadine Muzerall was honored as the WCHA’s player of the week for her four goals against Wisconsin last weekend.
Muzerall began her scoring streak Friday night as she outdueled the current national point leader — freshman Meghan Hunter — with a hat trick in the Gophers 5-2 win over the Badgers.
Saturday was more of the same from Muzerall as she scored Minnesota’s game-tying goal in the Gophers 4-4 tie against the Badgers.
The goal was also Muzerall’s 200th point and 119th goal of her career.
After missing four games due to a concussion and a violation of team rules, Muzerall said it was time to get back on track if she wants to top last year’s statistics — something she said she relies on her teammates to help her with.
“I have great linemates and we had good opportunities,” Muzerall said. “Ambria (Thomas)and Laura (Slominski) were both in there helping me.”
Rookie Record
While Muzerall was running Minnesota’s offense last weekend, rookie Bethany Petersen was busy on defense tying a team record with three assists in the third period of Friday night’s game.
Petersen’s points were also recognized by the league, earning her WCHA rookie of the week honors alongside Muzerall.
Petersen, a top recruit from Bloomington, leads the Gopher defense with eight assists this season.
Power Play Punch
After giving up seven goals on 27 power plays in the beginning of the season, the Gophers knew their penalty kill could use some work.
The low point came when, after a week of practice devoted to penalty kills, Ohio State scored on the power play just seven minutes into the first game of the series.
But by last weekend, the Gophers had built their penalty kill up to be the best in the WCHA.In the last 30 power play opportunities, the Gophers have crushed 28.
Wisconsin was perfecting their power play, to the point where the Badgers were also atop the WCHA and the nation in scoring efficiency with 34%.
Last weekend’s showdown was built up as a special teams test, one the Gophers had little concern for and passed with flying colors.
Against the Badgers Minnesota ended up ten for eleven on the kill, with a five for five shutout to end the series on Saturday.
Top Billing
Last weekend’s games between Minnesota and Wisconsin had more at stake than border battle bragging rights and special teams titles.
With the Badgers’ strong start to the season — which included wins against Minnesota-Duluth and fifth-ranked Harvard — Wisconsin was within one point of overtaking the Gophers for first place in the WCHA.
But after a 5-2 win and 4-4 tie the Gophers gained three points over the Badgers, securing their top position with seventeen points to Wisconsin’s fourteen and Minnesota-Duluth’s thirteen.
The Gophers are currently ranked third in the nation behind Dartmouth and Brown.

Monica Wright covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]. She can also be reached by calling (612) 627-4070 x3246