‘A matter of grit’: Mavericks aim for first win against No. 2 Gophers

After a rough 0-4 start to its2022-23 season, the Minnesota State University, Mankato women’s hockey team is moving on to yet another undefeated team this weekend: the Minnesota Gophers. 

Despite being winless, the Mavericks still hold their heads high. Senior forward Kennedy Bobyck kept it real with how the team dynamic has been.

“When you lose against the previous national champs by one in each game, that’s gotta give you a confidence boost,” she said. “Compared to how we played against them last year, it’s a big difference.”

After playing the No. 1 defending national champions Ohio State, Minnesota State played No. 4 and national runner-up Minnesota Duluth this past weekend. The Mavericks took Duluth to overtime in game one, earning their first point in Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) action. 

Minnesota State lost game two by a score of 2-0, but still has one of the closest goals-for-to-goals-against ratios in all of the WCHA. With close games becoming the norm against some of the top teams in the nation, the Mavericks have been gaining recognition from across college hockey. 

For the second straight week now MSU has appeared just outside the USCHO top 15 poll, receiving 26 votes in the Oct. 10 rendition making them the top reserve. With a win this weekend, the Mavericks could crack the top 15. 

With an 0-4 record to begin the season, the Mavericks have had a lot to work on in practice. It has been important to focus on their weaknesses and leverage their strengths, and the team will be looking to find itsfirst win behind team grit. 

“I think grittiness in the corners and on the wall is the biggest thing that we need to work on and bring into the next series,” explained Bobyck. 

“I think we get stuck in our D zone. Having that second edge of that second player coming in to come and help the effort in a battle will help us out. It’s just a matter of grit within ourselves and our team and how to hold each other accountable to do those things.”

Bobyck said she knows the Gophers are going to be a tough challenge yet again this weekend, but is confident in her team’s abilities. 

“I feel good about going against them. We did beat them one game last year. They’re an incredible team and they have a lineup of really good players, including ones that came back.”

The Gophers are off to a 2-0 start this year, beating Bemidji State in both of their opening contests. Bobyck said the Gophers do a lot of things well, 

“The Gophers move the puck really well and they have some really skilled players, especially up front.”

In order to play well and hopefully pull out another win this year, the Mavericks need to, “play really well as a team and in unison.” Bobyck said. “I think that’s the way we beat them last year. We played so well defensively and offensively, but we played as a unit, together. We need to single out their most important players.”

Header Photo: Minnesota State University, Mankato’s women’s hockey team will be at home this Friday at 3 p.m. at the Mayo Clinic Civic Center. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)

Write to Kole Buelow at Kole.Buelow@mnsu.edu

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