ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Senior forward Denelle Maguet scored two power play goals and Kristy Oonincx added a goal and an assist as St. Cloud State snapped a four-game losing streak at the National Hockey Center, defeating Niagara 4-1 in the first game of a two-game weekend nonconference series.
“We shook the lines up this week for the first time in a while,” said St. Cloud coach Jason Lesteberg. “They seemed to work pretty well this week, especially our top line with Maguet, Oonincx, and [Hailey] Clarkson.”
Seven minutes into the game, Niagara (4-8-1) went down two skaters, and St. Cloud State (4-10-1) capitalized. A pass from behind the goal line from Oonincx found Maguet at the top of the left faceoff circle. Maguet swiftly put a solid slap shot on net, beating NU goaltender Allison Rutledge on the short side to put the Huskies up 1-0.
Later in the first, SCSU escaped a potentially dangerous situation on its only penalty kill of the period when a quick whistle stopped play while the puck sat open in the crease behind St. Cloud goalie Lauri St. Jacques. Niagara junior Chelsea Donovan was poised to strike for what would have been the Purple Eagles’ first goal.
St. Cloud State scored its second goal in largely the same fashion as the first. After a first minute Niagara penalty, Maguet struck again, putting a pass from Brittni Kuyper into the net from the left faceoff dot 61 seconds into the second period, giving SCSU a 2-0 lead.
A little over seven minutes later, Niagara notched its first point of the game. Immediately following a penalty kill, NU sophomore Charde Hoyle-Levy intercepted a pass and made the feed to Donovan, who was unmarked in the neutral zone. Donovan easily gained the attacking zone on the breakaway and expertly outwaited St. Jacques to cut the St. Cloud lead in half.
St. Cloud State continued to put pressure on the Niagara penalty kill, which came out eight times on the night. Forty seconds into the Purple Eagles’ fourth penalty of the second period, SCSU senior Ashley Stewart was presented with the puck just to the left of the crease with a wide open net in front of her, but she rang the shot off the near post.
“We had some unbelievable opportunities tonight that we just didn’t get to go in,” Lesteberg said. “Some of those looks we need to start capitalizing on in the future.”
Kelly Stewart would score SCSU’s third goal at 7:24 of the third period. A shot from the point by St. Cloud captain Randie Jelinski was deflected by Stewart in front and into the net, returning the Huskies’ lead to two. A four-on-four goal by Oonincx with about four minutes left in the period sealed the victory for St. Cloud State, who won for the first time since beating North Dakota on Nov. 12.
“Four-on-four is always fun to play,” said Oonincx. “With all that open ice to work with, especially on the big ice surface that we have. When you’re playing with good players, it’s just great.”
Niagara, meanwhile, lost their second straight, and their first ever to St. Cloud State. Coming into the game, the Purple Eagles had been 3-0-1 against the Huskies.
“The five-on-three hurt us early,” said Niagara coach Heather Reinke. “We need to come back and work a bit harder and a bit smarter tomorrow night.”