Women’s hockey cruises to easy victory over Gustavus

Tim Nichols

Those who thought the Gophers women’s hockey team would be a bit rusty Sunday against Gustavus Adolphus after a 14-day layoff would have been correct for the first half of the first period.
After that, they would have been dead wrong.
During a Tara Joosten penalty, Brittny Ralph knocked off the rust by redirecting a Nadine Muzerall pass 14:19 into the first period for the first score of the game. That goal triggered a rampage upon Gustavus goaltender Jenifer Zywotko.
Minnesota had dominated the tempo of the game up to that point as Gustavus players could not control the puck to save their lives. In the first two periods, a player from Gustavus brought the puck into the Gophers zone only three times.
The lopsided play was represented in the statistics. Minnesota had more goals than Gustavus had shots in the 10-0 thumping, outshooting the opposition 47-8.
“The Production Line” of Ambria Thomas-Muzerall-Kris Scholz once again left its mark on an opponent by accounting for four goals and eight assists.
But it was a defender that took center stage — Emily Buchholz tied Matty Brekken for the team single-game assist record with four.
“I’m really happy that my teammates did a great job of putting the puck in the net when I gave it to them,” Buchholz said. “It was good to be able to contribute to the team that way.”
In the last three games, the Gophers have outscored their opponents 29-2 and outshot them 123-26.
Despite the dominance of the Gophers in the last few contests, coach Laura Halldorson was still a little upset about the first 10 minutes of the game.
“We need to be consistent every time we put the jerseys on. Gustavus played hard, and we give them credit because they kept coming at us,” Halldorson said. “They had a couple chances when we had a little lapse or bad decision that created a 2-on-1.”
Gustavus’ leading scorer, freshman Noelle Skalko, had no good shots on net all game as the Gophers completely dominated in puck possession and time in the attack zone. Sarah Harms easily stopped all eight shots en route to her third victory of the year.
In light of those facts, Halldorson did say, “Overall, we did play pretty solidly.”
The Gophers are going to need that solid play when they face their next two opponents, the Thoroughbreds and the Blue J’s. Those two squads are club teams that feature many former East Coast collegiate hockey players along with some homegrown Minnesota talent.
Halldorson singled out the game against the Thoroughbreds on Friday as a particularly intriguing match-up.
“(They are) a different type of club team,” Halldorson said. “The Thoroughbreds will be an interesting game because we have many connections to (them). Probably most of my players have either played for them or against them. So it will make for an interesting rivalry.”
It will also be revealing to see how the Gophers will react when they play a team of a higher caliber.
The Gophers, however, are not about to change a thing in their game plan.
“You can control what you do more than you can control what they do,” Scholz said. “If you play well, you will have the confidence to come out on top.”