ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The St. Cloud State line of Denelle Maguet, Hailey Clarkson, and Kristy Oonincx drew praise from Huskies head coach Jason Lesteberg after scoring three goals and an assist on Friday night. On this night, the trio gave him even more reason to beam.
“I told them after one of their shifts tonight that they were just fun to watch out there,” Lesteberg said. “They all see the ice the same way and they just work hard, it’s lots of fun to watch.”
On Saturday night, the line combined for nine points, including all four goals, to lead St. Cloud State to a 4-2 victory over Niagara to complete a weekend sweep at National Hockey Center.
Just as on Friday night, St. Cloud got the scoring started with a goal from junior Denelle Maguet. Four-and-a-half minutes into the game, Maguet struck with a one-timer from the left side of the net off a pass from Jacqueline Jensen.
Mere moments after their first and only power play opportunity of the first period expired, Niagara evened the score when Meagan Smith beat SCSU sophomore Kendall Newell top shelf with less than a minute to play in the period.
Senior Kristy Oonincx put the Huskies back up early in the second period. Nine seconds after a Niagara penalty gave St. Cloud a five-on-three advantage, Oonincx simply muscled the puck into position and fired a heat-seeker from the slot that found the back of the net for the 2-1 lead. The goal extended Oonincx’s goal-scoring streak to four straight games. Six minutes later, a shot by Oonincx was redirected in front by junior Hailey Clarkson, extending the St. Cloud lead to 3-1 on another power-play goal, her sixth tally of the season.
“I have a lot of fun playing with Oonincx and Denelle,” Clarkson said. “They think the game the same way I do, and that makes things a lot easier. They work hard and they are just great hockey players. I love playing with them.”
Niagara gained one back late in the second period, also on the advantage. After Newell made an initial save behind a flurry of action in front of the net, the rebound fell straight down onto the stick of NU junior Katie Gray, who promptly deposited the puck to Newell’s left, making the score 3-2 at the conclusion of the second.
SCSU needed just 24 seconds in the third period to regain the two-goal edge. A perfect pass from Clarkson to an unmarked Maguet directly in front of the net resulted in one of the more visually spectacular goals at the National Hockey Center on the season. Maguet delicately faked NU goalie Allison Rutledge into committing and very gently wrested the puck in on the backhand for her fourth goal of the weekend.
“I was a little nervous that my backhand was going a little too high, that it might go over the net but it ended up going in,” Maguet said.
Rutledge finished with 39 saves on the evening for Niagara, and 81 overall on a weekend where she was tested on a continuous basis by the St. Cloud State attack.
“Instead of reacting to what has already happened, we’re reacting to what’s going to happen,” Lesteberg said. “That’s just good hockey.”
Niagara lost its third straight game, bringing a three week road trip to a conclusion at 2-4. “Obviously this weekend was very frustrating for us,” said Niagara coach Heather Reinke. “We’re ready to get home. We’re looking forward to playing in our own barn again.”
St. Cloud State hosts WCHA foe Ohio State for two games next weekend. Niagara returns home to face No. 8 Clarkson on Friday and Saturday afternoons in a nonconference matchup.