Heading into this weekend’s series, the Minnesota State Women’s Hockey team was on a roll. The Mavericks won six straight games, including a series sweep of St. Cloud State, who had previously held the No. 14 ranking nationally before MSU handed them two losses on Jan. 13 and 14.
The two wins were a huge momentum boost for the Mavericks, who had six-straight top-10 matchups ahead of them following the St. Cloud State series. First up on that docket were the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers.
NCAA Champions just two seasons ago, the Badgers were a tall task for an up-and-coming Mavericks team who have improved slightly every year, since former 1980s U.S. Men’s National Team player, John Harrington, took over as head coach in 2015.
The Badgers had motivation of their own building toward the series with the Mavericks, as they had been struggling as of late, losing five straight games. On top of that, Wisconsin had yet to win on home ice since Nov. 20.
The two teams battled it out this past weekend Jan. 21 and 22, with Wisconsin coming out on top 2-1 and 6-0. Game one started off slow, with no team finding a goal until the second period.
The Badgers struck first, coming off the stick of senior forward, Britta Curl. Wisconsin tacked on another at the 3:36 mark of the third, but the Mavericks responded with a goal of their own just under five minutes later.
Senior forward, Kelsey King, notched the MSU tally, marking her team-leading ninth goal of the season. King benefited from a four-on-three break, weaving behind teammates and eventually receiving a nice drop pass from freshman, Whitney Tuttle, burying the puck blocker-side.
As time wound down the Mavericks were unable to find another goal, but a valiant effort would go down in the history books against a top contender year in and year out. The following night wasn’t very kind to Minnesota State, where a balanced scoring approach and a three-goal second period helped the Badgers run away with a 6-0 win on Sunday.
Wisconsin distributed the puck well against the Mavericks, with no player scoring more than one goal on the night. 14 Badgers recorded a point in the contest, totaling an astounding 16 points across all Badger skaters.
Next up for the Mavs is another away series where the team will be heading to Columbus, Ohio to take on the reigning National Champion Buckeyes. Ohio State currently sits No. 1 in the nation according to the USCHO poll and will have home-ice advantage this Friday and Saturday against a desperate Mavericks team.
Write to Kole Buelow at Kole.Buelow@mnsu.edu
Header Photo: MSU Women’s Hockey team returns home in defeat after a two-game away series in Wisconsin last weekend. (Lilly Anderson)