Young goaltenders steal spotlight in battle of in-state rivals

Monica Wright

With the women’s hockey season just three weeks old, coaches and veteran players alike figure it will take time for the freshmen to get accustomed to playing at the college level.
Rookies get short shifts to test the waters and are quickly replaced by their more seasoned counterparts who show them how it’s done.
But this weekend both Minnesota State-Mankato coach Todd Carroll and Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson decided to test the depth of the most important position on their teams by entrusting the nets to two inexperienced freshmen.
The results could teach upperclassmen a thing or two.
Mankato’s Shari Vogt typically plays goalie behind sophomore Katie Beauduy, a two-time first team all-state selection at Blaine High School.
But Friday night Carroll switched the lineup and Vogt was set to face the defending national champions for her second turn on the ice this year.
Vogt, who once stopped 84 shots in a high school game to give her team a 1-0 win, said she was too excited to feel pressure.
“After I make the first few saves it gets easier and I get stronger in goal,” Vogt said. “I get pumped up to play good teams; if we can skate with Minnesota we can skate with anyone.”
The Gophers went after the goal in typical voracious style, barely giving Vogt time to recover between the total of 49 shots. Vogt stopped 47 in the 2-1 loss.
Vogt continued to stand on her head on Saturday, stopping 38 of 44 Minnesota shots.
“People think it’s strange when we lose 6-1 and I say we had tremendous goaltending,” Carroll said. “But Shari thrives in high pressure situations and is strong between the pipes for us.”
Taking a cue from Carroll, Haldorson started rookie Stephanie Johnson on Saturday. Johnson, who saw time in the waning minutes of the Gophers 4-2 loss to Ohio State, had never played a full collegiate game.
After junior and second team all-WCHA goalie Crystal Nicholas transferred to Providence College at the end of last season, the Gophers were worried about the goaltender position.
But the all-conference and all-state Johnson proved herself worthy of the position Saturday. Though Johnson was challenged with just twelve shots, several were impressive, close-call saves for the Gophers.
“I could tell Stephanie was nervous for the game but she did a good job, the goal that went in wasn’t her fault,” Halldorson said. “I think it’s good for her to get experience so she can get confident in the net.”
Johnson’s strong stint in goal will most likely earn her more time on the ice, Halldorson said.
“When called on to help us out Stephanie has always done a great job,” Halldorson said. “And she just keeps getting better.”
Monica Wright covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]