Women’s hockey whips Minnesota State — again

by Jim Schortemeyer

It figured to be a blowout. After all, the Minnesota women’s hockey team had beaten Minnesota State-Mankato by a combined score of 33-3 prior to Thursday night’s game.
And true to form, the Gophers won by a score of 6-0 — but Mavericks goalie Jenny Padgett nearly kept it much closer.
Somebody must have spiked Padgett’s water bottle in the first two periods, because she did everything but erect a wall in front of the net. Through two periods, Padgett had 37 saves to keep things respectable at 2-0 in the Gophers’ favor.
“I think we dominated their territory, but we weren’t finishing plays,” coach Laura Hallordson said. “We had chances but they weren’t great chances.”
Minnesota State coach John Carroll gave the credit to Padgett’s solid goaltending.
“The last time we were here, she did the same thing,” Carroll said. “She’s a little unorthodox in her style, but she really kept us in there.”
But Padgett’s heroics didn’t last forever. The Gophers broke the game open in the third with four goals in the first 12 minutes. Padgett was pulled when the score reached 4-0.
“I think maybe we sensed a little fatigue in the end of the second period, and she was certainly tired when she came out of the game,” Carroll said.
The Gophers’ win over the Maverick leaves just one game on the schedule, but they’re hoping for three. Minnesota is in good shape to make the AWCHA Final Four, Mar. 26-27 at Mariucci Arena.
There are just four invitations to the national championships for women’s hockey, which are decided by the order of finish in the U.S. College Hockey Online Poll. In all likelihood, Minnesota (27-3-3) will finish the season ranked third.
Tournament invitations are extended on Mar. 21st. The Gophers will host the U.S. Olympic developmental squad on Mar. 22.
Unless something drastic happens, the Gophers can expect to face second-ranked Brown in the first round. Minnesota is 0-1-1 against Brown this season, but 4-2-2 against teams in the top eight.
Last season, Minnesota entered the tournament as the fourth seed before quickly bowing out with 4-1 and 4-0 losses.
But the consensus is that the Gophers are a better team this year. The additions of freshmen Jenny Schmidgall and Laura Slominski have only helped a deadly offense.
“Minnesota is just good,” Carroll said. “They’re offensive line is good no matter what line is on the ice.”
The Gophers will certainly hope for a better crowd than they got for the Mavericks at the tournament. Fewer than 200 fans showed up, though 415 tickets were sold.
“If we make it to the Final Four, we’ll have a good crowd,” freshman Winny Brodt said. “A crowd always brings us some energy.”