ERIE, Pa. — Consider the histories of the two teams involved, perhaps tonight’s 2-0 Minnesota State upset of No. 5 Mercyhurst wasn’t all that surprising. The Lakers had a recent history of struggling to find the net in the early season, exemplified by last season’s 2-1 defeat to WCHA cellar team Bemidji State to open the season.
Meanwhile, Minnesota State twice topped then three-time defending champion Minnesota-Duluth two seasons ago, so the Mavericks were well-known for early-season upsets. The Mavericks claimed the season-opening win despite being outshot 44-19.
Mercyhurst peppered the Maverick net early, placing 14 shots on target, but 16 penalty minutes is all that were recorded by the two teams in the first 20 minutes of play.
Minnesota State finally broke through at 14:29 of the second stanza when freshman Maggie Fisher, one of the three South St. Paul crew, pocketed the first goal of her young career. The speedy Maverick maneuvered around a Mercyhurst defender at center ice and beat Mercyhurst sophomore netminder Laura Hosier on a top shelf wrister, glove side.
The Mavericks maintained that slim lead until midway throught the third period. At 8:15 of the final frame, Fisher put the exclamation point on the game when she nailed a shorthanded marker, with help from junior Sammy Miller at 8:15 of the third.
Minnesota State sophomore netminder Brit Kehler had a career night in goal, turning aside all 44 shots she faced to earn her fourth career shutout. That save total matches her single-game best, established last season against then-No. 1 Minnesota on Feb. 19.
Both teams struggled on the power play. Mercyhurst finished 0-for-11 while the Mavericks ended 0-for-10. Hosier, who went undefeated last season at 12-0-0, suffered her first collegiate setback while making 17 saves.
The two teams, who hadn’t played each other since early November 2002 in Minnesota, will complete the weekend series Saturday at 2:00pm.