Muzerall back on track after missing early games due to injuries, suspension

Monica Wright

After missing as many games as she had played, senior Nadine Muzerall wasn’t having the sequel she hoped for after last season’s record breaker.
Looking back at the end of Minnesota’s championship year, Muzerall led the nation in goals (49), power play goals (16), power play points (27) and game winning goals (9).
Adding to the pressure, Sports Illustrated for Women tabbed Muzerall as the preseason national player of the year.
But after a concussion and suspension for violating team rules sidlined Muzzy for consecutive weekends, it appeared her plans to best her own records were shot.
Jumping back into action for Minnesota’s road trip to Harvard and Brown, Muzerall was still far from the trademark playmaker of last year, something she attributed to hangups from the suspension.
After sorting things out with coach Laura Halldorson last week, Muzerall popped in two goals against Minnesota-Duluth on Friday night, putting her total at three for the season and signaling the rest of the league.
Muzzy is back.
“Being a senior I thought ‘what the hell am I waiting for?'” Muzerall said. “This might be my last year of playing if things don’t work out with the Canadian national team, and this is the first NCAA tournament and we’re hosting it. You couldn’t set it up to be more perfect, and I want to go out with a bang.”
After a sweep of the Bulldogs, Muzerall said she’s ready to start making up for both lost ice time and goal scoring for her team.
“Goals don’t happen to me, I have to work for them,” Muzerall said. “And since I’ve only played half as many games as everyone else, I’m going to have to work twice as hard to get them.”
Gophers Overboard
When second-ranked Minnesota lost to then-unranked WCHA foe Ohio State last month, senior Ambria Thomas said the problem was clear: the team needed to get serious about practice.
“I was glad to hear that was one of their goals after the loss,” Halldorson said after the game. “I think practice is an area we could improve on.”
With that in mind, Halldorson and coaches Joel Johnson and Libby Witchger decided workouts in the pool were the best way to teach the team discipline while working on overall fitness.
So every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 a.m. the team jumps into the pool for their newly invented water workouts to help them with their team discipline and work ethic.
“There has to be a pretty good reason to get us into the pool at seven in the morning,” Muzerall said. “You should see hockey players swim. It’s not a pretty thing.”
Rank Reconstruction
After the Gophers (8-2-0, 7-1-0 WCHA) toppled rival Minnesota-Duluth last weekend 4-0 and 8-0 in their first shutouts of the season, they moved up to share second place in the rankings with Brown. The Bulldogs dropped down to fourth.
Other WCHA teams felt the shift, including Wisconsin. The Badgers fell to sixth behind Harvard after holding on to a top-five position for several weeks.
Ohio State lost to the Badgers on Friday but tied them 3-3 on Saturday. The Buckeyes made their first foray into the rankings, entering at number ten.
It marks the first time the flegling WCHA has four teams in the top ten.

Monica Wright covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]