Mavericks follow up shaky start to series with a dominant win on senior day
Minnesota State’s Women’s Hockey team played their last home series of the 2022-23 season this past weekend. The team concluded the weekend with a dominant 4-0 win over interstate rival, Bemidji State, after coming out with a sloppy 3-2 win Friday night.
A lot was on the line in this series for the Mavericks, who needed as many points as they could get in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings with just four conference games left in the season. The Mavs wanted to settle for nothing less than two wins, considering they were five points behind St. Cloud State at the beginning of the week.
With their two regulation wins and the Huskies only earning one point against Minnesota Duluth this past weekend, Minnesota State now controls their own destiny while locked at 30 points with St. Cloud. As for this past weekend, the Mavericks dug deep and got it done.
Junior forward, Madison Mashuga, got the Mavs rolling Friday night with an early goal just four minutes into the contest. Mashuga entered the zone on a two-on-one chance with senior defenseman, Charlotte Akervik. With back and forth passing the two tapped one home to earn a 1-0 lead. Minnesota State would eventually go down in the game, and would look to climb out of a one goal deficit heading into the third period.
Knowing they had to score early and often, senior forward, Kelsey King, got the ball rolling for the Mavericks, scoring her team-leading 12th goal of the season just over three minutes into the frame. It did not take long for MSU to score again, as Mashuga tallied her second goal of the night to give the Mavericks a 3-2 lead. Minnesota State held onto that lead for the remainder of the contest, earning a crucial three points toward the WCHA standings.
Saturday’s contest was an entirely different story for the Mavs, who dominated from beginning to end on their Senior Day. Despite not scoring in the first or third periods, a four-goal second frame propelled the Mavericks to a series sweep over Bemidji and six points in the standings.
King commented on the Mavericks’ success Saturday, stating, “I feel like we learned a lot from yesterday and that had a part to do with our success. We reassessed, reevaluated, and kept each other accountable.”
Saturday also marked Senior Day for Minnesota State, a celebration of the team’s seniors who are unsure or do not plan on returning to the team next season. King was quick to say that Saturday’s performance, “brought extra motivation to play for the people next to you.”
Fellow team member and one of the “three stars of the game,” Shelbi Guttormson, said she was playing for King that day.
With both teams coming up empty in the first period of play, it paved the way for a big second period for the Mavericks. Guttormson got things going for the Mavs, scoring a beautiful top-shelf shot from the right circle.
Guttormson’s goal lit the Mavericks on fire for the remainder of the period, as they would continue to put up three more goals before the second expired. The sophomore defenseman explained after the game that despite being a defenseman, her experience as a forward helped her bury the first goal of the game.
“At the beginning of last year I came in as a forward,” said Guttormson. “That definitely contributes to the offensive side of my game. As for that shot, I think working on driving then shooting top in practice helped and that got us momentum which fired up the team.”
The Mavericks ended up scoring again just under three minutes later, when senior forward, Kennedy Bobyck, was found alone behind the defense and decked the Bemidji goaltender for her fifth goal of the year. 17 seconds later, senior Brooke Bryant made her mark, tapping home a pass from freshman Lilie Ramirez.
Minnesota State finished off their second period route at the 11:27 mark off the stick of King. King collected the puck at the blue line and after pulling off a nasty spin cycle on a Beaver defender, buried the puck post and in to give MSU a 4-0 lead.
The game finished with a 4-0 scoreline with senior goaltender, Alexa Burg, collecting her third shutout of the year after stopping 22 shots. The Mavericks seemed to do everything right on Saturday, from protecting the puck to scoring to going 5/5 on the penalty kill.
“We have forwards that get huge blocks for us and that gets us super pumped on the penalty kill,” explained Guttormson. King added, “We preach being physical and using our bodies in practice, and I think today, we could use that on top of our speed. Combining the two made such a big difference because they couldn’t out muscle us nor out race us.”
As for what’s next, the Mavericks have a date with destiny this upcoming weekend, where they will face St. Cloud State in enemy territory. Earlier this season, the Mavericks swept the previously ranked No. 14 Huskies on home ice, but will now have to travel north to St. Cloud. Minnesota State is looking to ride their momentum into the series.
“These two wins were definitely needed to propel us. It’s always nice to be humbled, and we were humbled a bit on Friday,” said King. “I think we need to carry this momentum into St. Cloud and further into the playoffs.”
Write to Kole Buelow at Kole.Buelow@mnsu.edu
Header photo: MSU Women’s Hockey team sweeps Bemidji State in their final home series of the season with a 3-2 score Friday, Feb. 10 and 4-0 score Saturday, Feb. 11. (Lilly Anderson)