Goalies for both teams story of in-state rivalry

Monica Wright

In the past, a matchup between the Minnesota women’s hockey team and Minnesota State-Mankato meant an easy steamroll for the Gophers.
A blowout.
A 10-1 domination.
And looking at the statistics from last weekend’s series — Minnesota got off 104 total shots on goal compared to the Maverick’s 25 — it would seem little had changed.
But in the “new” WCHA, Mankato — make that Mankato goaltender Shari Vogt — held the Gophers (15-4-1, 12-1-1 WCHA) to two 4-0, 3-0 shutouts.
Vogt’s impressive wall in goal proved to be the backbone of the Mavericks (1-18-1, 0-13-1 WCHA). She kept Minnesota scoreless for three of six total periods on the weekend despite the virtual firing squad the Gophers sent her way.
Freshman La Toya Clarke even set a new school record of fourteen shots on goal in Sunday’s game.
“Shari is a phenomenal athlete,” Mankato coach Todd Carroll said. “People may look at our record and say ‘They must be unraveling,’ but we’ve got kids like Shari who want to win and elevate their game performance.”
Vogt’s dominating play between the pipes did not come as a surprise to the Gophers, who were given an early taste of her talent in a tight 2-1 win over the Mavericks in late October.
To prepare, the Gophers knew they couldn’t unload any shot at Vogt and expect a goal. Instead, they practiced screens and snapping off shots Vogt wouldn’t see coming.
“We talked about how we needed to get in front of her and block and always watch her glove because she covered the upper corners,” Engstrom said. “We knew we couldn’t get frustrated and that a shot would eventually go in if we stayed patient.”
In both games patience proved to be the key: Saturday’s first point came in the second period from Laura Slominski, while Sunday Vogt held the Gophers off until early in the third when Ambria Thomas — who scored three of the Gophers seven goals over the weekend — finally slid one past Vogt.
Despite the immense amount of traffic in front of her net and a serious lack of scoring by the Maverick offense, Vogt said she didn’t mind being the player who carries her team.
“It’s more pressure on me, but I like being the one who decides if we win or lose,” Vogt said. “But it’s tough knowing that if I give up goals it’s harder for our team to come back and win.”
The goalies on the winning end of the series — senior Erica Killewald and freshman Stephanie Johnson also earned accolades; Johnson for her first career shutout and Killewald for her second in three games, giving her 21 total for her career.
“A shutout for each player is great for their confidence,” coach Laura Halldorson said. “That’s the consistency we’re looking for from Killer — especially against Mercyhurst when we weren’t playing well in front of her and she kept the game scoreless.”
With the upcoming series against the U.S. National team on the minds of the Gophers even before they blanked the Mavericks, Halldorson said she hopes her team’s strong play will hold out for this weekend.
“Hopefully we can build on what we’ve done for this weekend.”

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