Eyeing revenge series against No. 7 Duluth, Mavericks hopes crushed in back-to-back days

With the hopes of avenging their back-to-back years of getting knocked out of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) playoffs, the Minnesota State Women’s Hockey team battled No. 7 Minnesota Duluth this past weekend. 

With near-future playoff seeding on the line, the Mavericks are in a spot where every point matters in WCHA play. Coming into the weekend, the Mavs were four points behind the currently fifth-seeded St. Cloud State Huskies and ended the weekend five points behind. 

St. Cloud State traveled to Madison, Wisconsin this past weekend, earning a series split with the Badgers to gain three points towards tournament seeding. With the Mavericks eyeing a tougher team in the No. 7 Bulldogs, Minnesota State needed to put everything on the line this weekend in order to ensure St. Cloud did not run away with the fourth seed. 

Despite two losses, the Mavs did just that, earning themselves two points to remain within two games of the Huskies. However, Minnesota State does not have much to be happy about this past weekend as they lost in overtime and in controversial fashion in their respective Friday and Saturday games. 

Friday evening the Mavericks came out hot, notching the first goal of the contest behind a nice net-crashing play by senior forward Claire Butorac. Senior Brooke Bryant entered the zone with Butorac to her right, and after a nice shot that created a rebound opportunity, Butorac’s effort to create chaos in the crease helped her manage a goal after the puck bounced off her leg and into the net. 

The Bulldogs responded just under five minutes later, scoring on the power play on a 2nd chance opportunity in front of Mavericks goaltender, Lauren Barboro. As time ticked down in the first, the Mavs struck again with just under a minute remaining. 

Senior forward, Kelsey King, found the sweet spot for a breakout pass behind the Duluth defenders, scoring on the breakaway. 

Coming out of the first intermission, the Mavericks found the first score of the second period as well. As time ticked down from a Duluth powerplay, Minnesota State generated a two on one chance after a nice defensive stand. Junior forward, Jamie Nelson, led the charge for MSU, eventually dropping a pass to trailing senior defenseman, Charlotte Akervik, who ripped a shot low blocker side for the 3-1 lead. 

Unfortunately for the Mavericks, the Bulldogs climbed their way back into the contest with two late-period goals in the second and third periods to send the game to overtime tied at three. 

3:04 into extra time, Minnesota Duluth ended the game. Bulldogs skaters, Clara Van Wieren and Mannon McMahon, entered the zone opposite of each other, and as a quick shot that Barboro thought she had corralled in her arms squeaked out for a rebound, McMahon was able to tap the puck in to earn the Bulldogs a comeback win. 

After the game, Akervik explained that she thought the team played well, and looking into the next game, the Mavericks had to continue playing their style of hockey. “As for tomorrow, I think we have to continue to do a lot of the same things: increase our shots on net, continue to have an offensive presence, and keep having a strong D-zone.”

The following game was a similar story in that both teams went into overtime once again, but this time, tied at zero. The Mavericks started off each period hot, while the Bulldogs would fight their way back to end the period on a hot streak of their own.

Nelson explained that prior to the third period the Mavericks understood they did not want to repeat their past. “From our history against UMD, they always pull something out in the third period,” said Nelson. “We know that, and we wanted to give it right back to them. We had that determination to win.” Despite ramping up the pace in the third period, neither team found a goal.

With 34 seconds remaining in the overtime period, Minnesota State thought they had won the game after junior forward, Sydney Langseth, buried a goal just outside Duluth’s crease. However, a lengthy and controversial review determined that there was goaltender interference on the play to negate the goal.

Freshman Taylor Otremba had bumped into Duluth’s goaltender after both tried to make a play on the puck outside the goaltender’s painted area, which was enough for the referees to determine the goal should not stand after it originally had prior to review. 

Nelson explained the situation saying, “It was like a punch to the gut. It really takes a lot out of you mentally to come back from that. As much as I wanted three more minutes to end the game, they had all the momentum after that. Until you are in that position, you don’t really know the energy it takes out of you when a call like that is made against you.”

Momentum was certainly on Duluth’s side after the call and it was the Bulldogs who came out with the win in the best-of-three shootout. Graduate defenseman, Maggie Flaherty, was the only player to find the twine, propelling Duluth to another win in extra time. 

Barring extreme circumstances the Bulldogs are essentially now solidified as the fourth seed for the upcoming WCHA playoffs while St. Cloud State and Minnesota State are entangled in a fight for the fifth and sixth seeds. The Mavericks will surely want to overtake the Huskies in the standings to continue their revenge campaign against UMD, but their only chance to do so is to hope St. Cloud State loses one or both games this upcoming weekend while having to win both of their own against Bemidji. 

Then, it’s up to the Mavericks to go into St. Cloud’s home rink and take care of business the following week.

Header Photo: MSU Women’s Hockey lost and tied for their two-game home series against Minnesota Duluth. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)

Write to Kole Buelow at

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