University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey head coach Shannon Miller knew going into Saturday's game against Minnesota State University, Mankato that she would be missing two of her top-scorers. What Miller didn't realize is that she would be without the rest of her top players for the first 40 minutes.
The No. 10 Bulldogs were stunned by the Mavericks by a score of 2-1 at AMSOIL Arena in a game that injury-riddled UMD badly needed in its race for Western Collegiate Hockey Association home playoff ice. With the loss, the Bulldogs drop from a third place tie in the WCHA to a fourth-place tie with Ohio State University.
"We are in a tough situation because Jamie Kenyon is out and she is the key player to make that first line," said Miller. "Zoe Hickel is out and she is the key player that makes our second line. They are both key power play players and on penalty kill. Several other players that dressed and played today didn't practice all week due to injuries. When you cannot practice together in lines and power play units you can't get in a rhythm and get any chemistry going. It's a very difficult situation. However, with key players missing we needed our other talented players to be prepared, to be focussed and to step up and get it done. And they didn't. They lacked proper preparation, focus, work ethic and pride. I am so disappointed in them."
After a scoreless first period tilted in UMD's direction, the second period was a landslide in favor of the Mavericks. MSU climbed onto the scoreboard at the 15:06 mark on a fluke goal off a face-off that somehow slipped slowly five-hole underneath UMD netminder Kayla Black. The Mavericks then took the deliberate lead 3:12 later, when Lauren Smith scored a power play tally by beating Black between the pipe and her right skate to help MSU take the 2-0 into the second intermission.
That score held until sophomore winger Jenna McParland literally scored on pure determination. McParland skated through the slot, battered by a MSU defenseman and around Maverick goaltender Erin Krichiver to bury the puck in the goal at 12:53. McParland's 10th goal of the season was assisted by Jessica Wong and Brigette Lacquette, and cut MSU's lead to a single goal at 2-1.
UMD would come no closer, however, as Krichiver made 39 saves in her first start between the pipes for the Mavericks. Black had 23 stops for the Bulldogs, who went 0-of-4 on the power play over the afternoon. The Bulldogs, bullied by injuries all week, were without sophomore forward Hickel (10 goals, 11 assists) and junior forward Kenyon (nine goals, six assists).
Both teams will rematch for a regular season finale tomorrow afternoon at AMSOIL. Due to weather concerns, the game has been moved up and is slated to begin at 1:07pm.