In addition to an exhibition win against the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire Nov. 14, the Minnesota State women’s hockey team has now won seven of their last eight regular season games. The Mavericks’ most recently added to their win total this past weekend in a two-game series against the University of St. Thomas.
Minnesota State beat the Tommies 3-1 and 2-0 in each contest respectively, earning the team six points in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings.
With the wins, the Mavericks remain one point ahead of nationally-ranked No. 7 Minnesota Duluth for fourth place in the WCHA.
In the eight-game stretch which found MSU with seven wins, the Mavericks have allowed more than one goal just once, resulting in their lone loss to Bemidji State. Despite a multitude of injuries, the Mavericks’ defense has played a huge part in their success in keeping teams off the scoreboard.
As a part of the unit herself, sophomore defenseman, Shelbi Guttormson, explained, “staying solid in the D zone and getting the puck out with simple plays,” has been the Mavericks’ bread and butter on defense.
In addition, Minnesota State has continued to have a top penalty-kill unit in all of NCAA Division I hockey. With three scoreless kills against St. Thomas this weekend, the Mavericks jumped Quinnipiac University for third in penalty kill percentage in the nation.
Guttormson is also a member of the penalty kill unit and had a simple message when talking about the Mavericks’ success in that area. “Our penalty kills are definitely one the strong suits of our game,” said Guttormson. “We work on it a lot. I think that’s how we keep goals out of the net.”
Minnesota State has also been finding this success without some of its biggest contributors. Among the injuries that have found players out of the lineup before its series against St. Thomas, the Mavericks were also without seniors Taylor Wemple and Kelsey King this weekend.
Wemple’s absence was undisclosed, but King has been on the road competing for Team USA in the 2022-23 Rivalry Series against Canada. Both are expected to return for the Mavericks for their upcoming series against the University of Minnesota and should provide a positive spark to an MSU team that has missed them on their scattered and empty line chart.
Minnesota State has been successful despite injuries, but Guttormson explained the two players’ absence has been much more costly than what catches the eye.
“King is a big loss up in the front with scoring and Wemple on the back line,” said Guttormson. “We had five ‘D’ today, so it’s tough. I think just playing with what we got, like last year we were down a lot, has been helping us through adversity like that and keeping us strong with our small numbers.”
The Mavericks will return to the ice after a one-week break for a WCHA series against the No. 3 Minnesota Gophers Dec. 2 and Dec. 3. Until then, Minnesota State will look to get healthier and remain sharp for what will be one of the team’s biggest series this season.
Header Photo: No. 11 Guttormson, Shelbi scored her second goal this season. Both of her goals have been scored on St. Thomas. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
Write to Kole Buelow at Kole.Buelow@mnsu.edu