ERIE, Pa. — Mercyhurst lost on the scoreboard but achieved a milestone in the stands on Saturday afternoon. The No. 8 Lakers fielded a record sellout crowd of 1,500 in a 4-2 defeat against two-time defending NCAA champion Minnesota.
Sisti made sure this game was played on Parents’ weekend so the seats were full and the fans were loud. The fifth year coach got everything he asked for with the exception of a much-needed win.
Sisti said, “Our fans were absolutely awesome. They filled the rink with a sellout crowd of 1500. This was probably the best crowd and loudest crowd I ever saw.”
No. 4 Minnesota (5-1) had to overcome not only a loud crowd but a 2-0 deficit going into the second period. Mercyhurst (3-3) clearly had the momentum after the first period ended but Minnesota freshman Gigi Marvin quickly got it back when she put away a rebound on Laker goalie Laura Hosier’s stick side. Anya Miller was credited with the assist when her original shot was not covered up by Hosier.
Bobbi Ross scored at 8:38 of the second period to even up the score and the momentum shifted all the way back to Minnesota’s side. Erica McKenzie scored on another rebound at 11:39 to put the Golden Gophers up for good.
Mercyhurst had power play opportunities to even the score but struggled to finish quality chances. Sisti thought his team played well at times on the power play and expected better results.
“Minnesota had great penalty killers who put phenomenal pressure on us,” Sisti said. “I thought at times they put enough pressure on us to break up some of our momentum. I thought our power play moved the puck better than ever. The only frustrating thing now is that we are doing everything we have to do to be successful on the power play but put the puck in the net.”
Minnesota goalie Brittony Chartier made 26 saves on the day and had to make some big saves, especially in the second period. Sisti thought Chartier was the difference this weekend.
“Chartier made some great saves when she had to and she takes up a lot of room”, said Sisti, who was despondent and somewhat disappointed. “I think without her, I don’t think the results would have been the same.”
Mercyhurst started the scoring at 3:44 in the 1st period when Stephanie Jones scored her first goal of the year. Jones redirected a Michelle Bonello slap shot from the point. Mercyhurst’s Stefanie Bourbeau put the Lakers up 2-0 when she skated in on the right side after picking up a loose puck. She skated around a Minnesota defender and came in all alone and lifted the puck past a sprawling Chartier.
Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson was excited to be part of this weekend’s series. She believed her team fed off the loud, raucous crowd both nights.
Halldorson said, “Our team loved the atmosphere. It was exciting, loud and the fans were into it. It was a high tempo game with a lot of action. I thought it was a great college women’s hockey game.”
Mercyhurst hopes to get back on the winning track next week as No. 1 St. Lawrence comes to Erie for a two-game series. Minnesota hopes to continue its winning ways against arch-rival No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth.