Women’s hockey

Monica Wright

Hell has officially frozen over in the WCHA.
With both defending National Champions Minnesota and defending WCHA champions Minnesota-Duluth toppled by teams with losing records last year, the message was clear:
Anything can happen this season.
For the Gophers (3-1-0), it was a tough lesson to learn as they struggled to a 6-2 win Saturday against Ohio State (2-1-0, 1-1-0 WCHA), only to be easily beaten 4-2 on Sunday.
“I don’t know what the problem is, the coaches don’t have the answers,” Halldorson said. “It’s something the players need to think about because we weren’t playing hard.”
“But I do know that we were beaten by a good team.”
The Buckeyes started the series with a serious slap to the Gophers. Not only did they jump to an early 1-0 lead Saturday, their goal was scored on the power play, something Minnesota had been working on all week after St. Cloud State slapped in three power play goals in last weekend’s series.
Though the penalty-kill line held for the four remaining power plays, Minnesota’s lackluster performance showed in the statistics. The Buckeyes outshot the Gophers 22-19 and won 41 of 54 face-offs.
The Gophers finally came alive in the third period as freshman Jerilyn Glenn knocked in two goals in less than five minutes.
Glenn took over the left wing position after senior and last season’s leading goal scorer Nadine Muzerall was benched with a grade-two concussion she received last weekend against the Huskies.
“Jerilyn had two goals and La Toya Clarke had two assists which was good for us,” Halldorson said. “They’re figuring out how everything works.”
Sunday’s game began deceptively well as senior Ambria Thomas scored within two minutes of the first period.
Those were the only positive minutes of the game for Minnesota as the Buckeyes took over and went on to score four consecutive goals.
Though sophomore Ronda Curtin scored in the final minutes of the game, it wasn’t enough to affect the aggressive Buckeyes.
“We worked this weekend for 120 minutes making things happen,” coach Jackie Barto said. “We have a great never-let-up attitude this year, and our new recruiting class has made a major impact on our work ethic.”
As the clock ticked down the last seconds of the third period, Ohio State’s bench poured onto the ice in celebration, something an opponent hasn’t enjoyed at Mariucci Arena since December 1999.
With the excitement of being the first team to trounce the National Champions, the Buckeyes’ three Stars of the Game — Corinne Rosen, Kelli Halcisak and Shana Frost — forgot to show up on the ice for the announcement.
Though it’s hard for the Gophers to stomach, Thomas said the overall pace and challenge of the games was a welcome improvement to the league.
“It’s good for our program and for the Midwest,” Thomas said. “For the last three years we’ve wanted more games like this one, not 10-0 wins.
“It’s a tough loss and an eye-opener, but these are the kind of games we want.”

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