Women’s hockey searches for answers

The Minnesota State Mavericks came out firing early in their Friday afternoon game against the tenth-ranked North Dakota Fighting Hawks at the Verizon Wireless Center, but the defense of UND outlasted MSU in a 3-2 win for the Fighting Hawks.

“Some of our older kids on the defensive core stepped up and made plays,” said UND head coach Brian Idalski after the game. “I also thought we stopped turning pucks over as much as we did in the first [and] didn’t give them as much in transition as we were early in the game.”

Coming into the game, UND has had their number over the last 10 games with a 9-0-1 record against MSU.

Opening the first period, the Mavericks played very aggressively, pressing the opposition deep in their territory and harassing the UND offense, forcing them to take contested shots from way outside.

The Fighting Hawks began to settle into their offense midway through the period with a goal from their leading scorer, Emma Nuutinen, who netted her eighth to pull UND ahead 1-0. Nuutinen and Charly Dahlquist were a big part of the offensive pressure early, as UND outshot MSU 11-3 in the period.

To finish the last six seconds of the first period, Gracen Hirschy was sent to the box for body-checking. That lead to the tying goal 22 seconds into the second period on the redirect score from Lindsey Coleman. Then, on another UND penalty from Dahlquist, Magen Hinze netted her fifth goal of the season to make it a 2-1 lead for MSU. Keep in mind, this team was 6-59 on the power play going into this weekend. That is an abysmal 10.2 percent. MSU was up despite being outshot 24-11 through two periods.

“We got the opportunities that got us back in the game there. They were quick and strong on the puck, and we didn’t have the position time that we had last weekend against Minnesota in that Hall of Fame game,” said MSU head coach John Harrington on their power play. “But we went back on the power play, won some draws, and showed some poise.”

The third period, however, is when all the shots Minnesota State was allowing finally caught up with them. In the first three minutes, the Fighting Hawks scored two goals right out of the gate. Hirschy and Halli Krzyzaniak scored to make the game 3-2 and evaporate the MSU lead immediately in the third period. North Dakota looked like the tenth-best team in the country in the third period, with 12 shots on goal and their goaltender, Lexi Shaw, snagging six saves in the period.

“I think we just got a little more sense of urgency to shoot the puck and did a little better job of creating traffic around the net,” said Idalski on the third period production. “You’re not going to beat their goaltender clean, so you just have to get dirty and lucky to get some bounces and a couple goals.”

The defense for MSU had been outshot all game and finally crumbled late, unable to get out of their zone for the majority of the period. MSU’s Brianna Quade made 33 saves out of 36 shots to Shaw’s mere 15 for 17.

The Mavericks continued play against the Fighting Hawks on Saturday, with hopes of stealing one at home against a top-ten team.

The North Dakota Fighting Hawks kept yesterday’s third-period momentum as they gave the Minnesota State Mavericks a 4-0 shellacking in Saturday’s rematch at the Verizon Wireless Center.

The game was won in the first period as UND came out firing and playing fast. In the first three minutes, Jordan Hampton scored on a snipe from the blue line to put the Fighting Hawks ahead early. MSU’s Taylor Gulenchyn committed a penalty soon after. Before the power play for UND could be enforced, they pulled their goaltender and were able to score on a Ryleigh Houston shot. Amy Menke then netted a power play goal.

The difference between Friday and Saturday was the MSU defense’s lack of aggression. They were run all over through the middle of the ice and took loads of shots right around the crease, leaving players open for uncontested shots on the outside with plenty of players around the goaltender for put-backs.

This is how Rebekah Kolstad scored the fourth goal for UND five minutes into the second period and then proceeded to lock up on defense. The remainder of the game went scoreless for both sides, and despite the success Friday’s power play, MSU failed to score on any of the eight power plays they went on.

Freshman Kristen Campbell got the nod in the net to start over Lexi Shaw and performed admirably, earning her first career shutout on 22 saves. While the defense for MSU kept the shots on goal from North Dakota down, Brianna Quade saw 29 shots and had 25 saves. While her slump in the net continued, the defense was on their heels most of the game, which wasn’t helped by the seven penalties MSU committed.

Minnesota State will take on another WCHA opponent on the road next weekend in a double-header against St. Cloud State.

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