GRAND FORKS, N.D. --- The lone senior of this year's University of North Dakota women's hockey team, and head coach Brian Idalski's first recruit after taking over the helm of Fighting Sioux program, couldn't have dreamed a better way to end her playing career in the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Roy scored the game-winning goal tonight lifting the eighth-ranked Sioux past third-ranked rival Minnesota, 5-3, in its first win over the Gophers in program history at home. A good portion of the 2,885 Sioux fans in attendance stuck around for the seniors sendoff.
"That is for sure," senior Stephanie Roy said about it being an emotional ending. "But hats off to the entire team, they did a great job. We were kind of down a little bit after the first period but we pulled through and killed off a lot of penalties which gave us some momentum."
"We couldn't script that any better," head coach Brian Idalski said. "I was just so happy for her and so proud of her. With that moment playing such a large part in her final game here in the REA. Great night for Steph, very proud of her."
Roy brought the puck in the slot, walked around a defenseman and shot a backhander into the net at 13:27 of the third period.
"I actually wanted to lift that one but it went in anyways," Roy said with a laugh. "That is what we knew about (Noora) Raty. She is great and if you shoot it into her she is going to stop it. You have to go either high or low. I got it off my backhand and it went in low. It was a great feeling to have that puck go in."
The win sends the Sioux into the first round of the WCHA playoffs ending a three-game losing streak (tied for a season long) and regaining some momentum as they head into its first-ever home playoff series hosting Bemidji State next weekend.
"First series win, first home win, and big in the pairwise," Idalski said about the victory over the Gophers. "We had dropped a ninth. Dartmouth had moved ahead of us before the game. We needed this so it is huge from that standpoint."
"It was a huge game for us," Junior Alyssa Wiebe said. We knew we needed to get some points this weekend. Losing a tough one yesterday that was a special-teams battle, so coming back today and taking care of business will really help us in the national rankings."
After allowing three power-play goals in its 5-3 loss yesterday, the Sioux rebounded with three off its own tonight going 3-for-10.
"We knew we couldn't take stupid penalties and could play with them 5-on-5," Wiebe said. "They are very talented on the power play for sure. We knew we had to come out and give it our all and hold nothing back going into the playoffs."
The Gophers were able to cash in on two of their own opportunities including on its first shot of the game to gain an early 1-0 lead at 3:07 of the first period.
The score would hold though deep into the second period when after a very stagnant first half of the middle frame, Jocelyne Lamoureux gave the crowd what they needed to get back into the game as she scored after Raty gave up a rebound off a shot by Wiebe on the power play.
Kelsey Ketcher (Mound, Minn.) would open the third period scoring another goal on the power play only 1:51 into the frame as she chipped a loose puck up and over Raty.
The Gophers were given a gift when they cut the lead to 3-2. Jen Schoullis was credited for a goal that she kicked past Ney, but the officials never saw it and after a lengthy discussion decided not to review it.
The goal seemed to spark the home team that answered with a pair of goals by Wiebe and Roy. Wiebe stuffed the puck in off of Raty's glove at 8:09 and Roy would score her fifth of the season at 13:27.
Minnesota again would make it interesting as Schoullis would score her second of the night, shorthanded, with 2:05 left on the clock to cut the lead to one but again the Sioux were able to answer as sophomore Mary Loken (Roseau, Minn.) score an unassisted power-play goal at 18:37 to seal the win.
Junior Stephanie Ney picked up the win for the Sioux improving to 14-5-2 making 29 saves. Raty drops to 22-6-2 and gave up five goals for only the second time this season. She would finish with 26 saves.
"Stephanie was pretty hard on herself yesterday," Idalski said. "Didn't have to say much, had a little chat this morning and she was hungry to get back after it and prove that she is better than that. She did fantastic."