The Gophers women’s hockey team split their series with fourth-ranked Northeastern in Boston this weekend, losing 4-1 on Saturday and winning 3-1 on Friday.
The series ends a five-game series of road trips for the Gophers. They finished the trips with a 3-2 record, putting them at 4-2-0 (2-0-0 WCHA).
Saturday, the Gophers lost to a tough Northeastern team that would not let Minnesota start anything offensively. The Huskies kept the Gophers on the backs of their skates, shooting 12 times on Minnesota goalkeeper Erica Killewald during the first 18 minutes and not allowing the Gophers to shoot once during that time.
Huskies freshman Michelle Lorion notched her first career goal during the 18-minute onslaught and put the Huskies up 1-0.
Revitalized and seemingly reborn, the Gophers skated out onto the ice and scored early in the second period. Junior left wing Ambria Thomas netted a puck she wrested from the Huskies goalkeeper by knocking it in off another player.
The goal would be the only Gophers goal that night.
The Huskies, determined not to lose again to fifth-ranked Minnesota, managed their game well and held the tie until early in the third period when Northeastern’s Colleen Coen took the lead for good.
Coen’s goal was all the Huskies would need to win — the Gophers didn’t score for the rest of the game.
“Penalties were a factor in why we lost,” said junior center Nadine Muzerall. “We got dumb penalties and they capitalized.”
Friday night, however, the Gophers had more than enough game to freeze Northeastern on their home ice. During the first period, the Huskies managed to hold off the Gophers scoring weapons for the most part, allowing only three shots on goal. But the insistent Gophers duo of Muzerall and senior wing Shannon Kennedy broke away from the pack and earned Kennedy her first goal of the season.
“We had some ESPN highlight goals,” said Muzerall.
Irritated by the goal, the Huskies came out with a vengeance in the second period.
Maybe too much vengeance. Their intensity translated into two penalties which resulted in power plays where the Gophers managed to end their scoring drought. Minnesota held their lead and posted seven shots during the consecutive power plays.
The Gophers kept their full head of steam and came out to play during the third period. Muzerall scored her fourth goal of the season just one minute and 16 seconds into the third period on a pass from sophomore wing Tracy Engstrom. Muzerall banged the puck in after her first shot was blocked by Northeastern goaltender Erica Silva.
Northeastern closed the gap with a goal from Hilary Witt but could not manage to tie the score. When the Huskies pulled their goalie and still could not score, Muzerall slid the puck into the empty net with 13 seconds left to play, crushing Northeastern’s hopes for redemption.
Minnesota will face have a rough weekend starting this Friday against Brown. The Gophers face Harvard on Sunday. Both teams were in the AWCHA Final Four last year, along with Minnesota.
Paul Markgraff covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]