Women’s hockey whips MSU

Tim Nichols

Minnesota’s women’s hockey team was served another cupcake on Friday, and they gobbled it up.
Minnesota State fell prey to a swarming Gophers offense and stringent defense in the 8-1 decision.
Minnesota improved to 4-1-1 on the season, outscoring opponents by a total of 41-6.
It took a superhuman effort from Mavericks goaltender Jenny Padget, who stopped 33 of 41 shots, to keep her team even remotely close on a night where the Gophers moved the puck around at will.
“I thought that Mankato played a stronger game than the first time we played them,” coach Laura Halldorson said. “But I think we also did. We went four lines the whole game, and for the most part that worked pretty well. I was happy that we got a couple of power-play goals too.”
The majority of the goal scoring came from sophomore winger Nadine Muzerall, who notched her fourth career hat trick in the victory.
“You have got to compliment my linemates,” Muzerall said. “I’m playing with Shannon Kennedy and Schmidgy (freshman Jenny Schmidgall). Playing with them, it’s not hard to get goals. They’re always there, passing the puck around.”
Although it was the first time in the sophomore’s short but prolific career that she played the right side, Muzerall said she wouldn’t object to playing on that side again.
“I’ve always played left wing, but right wing I like more because I’m on my forehand in the offensive zone,” Muzerall said. “And like I said, we got Schmidgy and Shannon there passing it to me and all I have to do is tap it in.”
Freshman Tracy Engstrom also stood out on the ice, scoring two goals in the contest.
Engstrom is used to scoring goals at big clip after playing for the Minnesota Thoroughbreds junior team, where she scored 53 goals and 56 assists in two seasons.
While it has taken time for Engstrom to find her identity as a member of the Gophers, this could go down as a breakout game for the Willmar, Minn., native.
“When I first came here I felt a little nervous and tense,” Engstrom said. “This has always been my dream (playing for Minnesota) since I was a little girl playing with the boys. And even though there wasn’t any women’s hockey here then, it has always been my dream. I feel part of the team now.”
For the Gophers to be successful in the future, they will need all of their players clicking. Minnesota travels to Princeton, N.J., over the Thanksgiving weekend to take on Northeastern, Princeton and Queens.
These are three established women’s hockey programs, unlike Minnesota State, which is in its first year.
“I’m excited about the trip,” Halldorson said. “Last year at this time, we had a huge weekend at the Princeton Thanksgiving Day tournament. We had our first wins against any eastern teams, and they really gave us some confidence that carried us throughout the season.
“Going back there definitely will be special for us. But there are going to be some tough games there.”