DULUTH, Minn. — Uninspired would be the word to describe Minnesota-Duluth coach Shannon Miller’s impression of her team’s 4-1 win over No. 9 Minnesota State Friday night. The Bulldogs held a 2-0 lead after one period but allowed the Mavericks to come back within a goal going into the second intermission.
“I was disappointed with our effort, certainly not the result, but our effort,” said UMD coach Shannon Miller. “We are trying to peak right now for three weeks, and sustain a peak so we get better each weekend.”
The game was anyone’s to be had at the start of the third with UMD holding on to a 2-1 lead. But with just 49 seconds elapsed in the period, UMD freshman Michaela Lanzl flipped in a rebound off linemate Melissa Roy’s shot to give the Bulldogs (13-2, 11-2 WCHA) some breathing room. UMD’s third line finished the scoring when Samantha Hough beat MSU goalie Brit Kehler on a scrum in front of the net just under six minutes later.
Roy stepped into UMD’s top line in place of the nation’s top scorer Noemie Marin, who was out playing in the Pan Am Games with the Canadian national softball team.
The Mavericks (9-5-1, 6-4-1) were forced to regroup before the first puck dropped as first line sophomore forward Amanda Stohr lost an edge during warm-ups and left for the hospital with a shoulder injury. It’s the fourth shoulder injury the Mavericks have already dealt with this season.
“She’s a heart and soul type kid on our team,” Maverick coach Jeff Vizenor said of Stohr. “You could see it shook our kids up, and I needed to refocus after that too. She’s a leader of our team and it certainly didn’t help us.”
Maverick freshman forward Maggie Fisher broke through at 13:43 of the second to put MSU on the board. The unassisted goal came as Fisher picked up a lost puck by a UMD defender and beat UMD goalie Riitta Schaublin. It was Fisher’s team-leading ninth goal of the season.
“We have not played a game this season with twelve forwards and six defenders” Vizenor said. “Somehow we keep scrapping with different kids stepping up each night. I’m proud of the way we’ve battled each night and when we get everyone healthy, we’ll be an even better team.”
UMD assistant captain Jessica Koizumi scored first for UMD when she picked up a turnover at MSU’s left face off circle. The MSU defender dropped toward Lanzl as Koizumi streaked toward the goal, giving her a chance to walk in and beat MSU goalie Brit Kehler with a backhand shot.
UMD freshman forward Sara O’Toole scored her fourth goal and fourth game winning goal of the season at 14:44 of the first period.
Koizumi agreed that UMD came out slowly: “It started in the beginning. It’s hard when you come off a team like Harvard. It’s hard to get pumped up consistently but that what great teams have to do. That’s what we need to get better at.”
Miller wants the team’s level of competition to be rising going into a two-game series against No. 4 Wisconsin next week that may well decide the WCHA regular season title further down the road.
“We’re hoping to play our best hockey against Wisconsin,” Miller said. “Everyone verbally bought into the plan, but [our players] need to make a decision if they want to compete at the level we competed at last weekend. That’s the player’s decision, there’s nothing I can do”.
UMD and MSU came in ranked first and second in WCHA penalty kill statistics, and both lived up to the rankings as neither team capitalized on their power play opportunities. Schaublin played in her eighth consecutive game in which she has not allowed more than one goal. She stopped 30 shots, while Kehler stopped 38.
The two teams meet again tomorrow for the weekend finale.