MINNEAPOLIS — With All-American goaltender Noora Räty out of the lineup due to being “nicked up,” according to Minnesota coach Brad Frost, freshman Shyler Sletta made her first career start and pitched a 20-save shutout in a 3-0 win over Minnesota State Thursday night.
Showing her humble side after the game, Sletta said she wasn’t too concerned with the shutout.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Sletta said. “I was thinking, ‘Let’s win, let’s win, let’s win.’ I was more worried about what everybody else was doing.”
At the other end of the ice, Minnesota (6-1-0, 4-1-0 WCHA) did enough to ensure the win.
After stopping everything that the Gophers threw at her for most of the first period, a long Minnesota dump-in managed to elude Mavericks’ goalie Alli Altmann for a 1-0 lead at 16:42.
“It’s funny the way sometimes goals go in,” MSU coach Eric Means said. “Yeah, it was a fluky goal, but they had controlled that first period. Alli had made a lot of good saves and it could easily have been 3-0 or 4-0 instead of 1-0.”
Altmann stopped 22 of 23 shots in the first period for the Mavericks (4-3-0, 0-1-0 WCHA).
Sara Davis got credit for her first of the season as she scored on a rebound two minutes into the middle frame to up the lead to 2-0.
“Seventh game of the season – I don’t care how they go in at this point,” said Davis. “I just want them to go in.”
Frost was happy to see his second-line center end her personal drought.
“That first one tonight was obviously pretty unorthodox, but you could just see the weight lift off of her shoulders a little bit,” Frost said. “We need her to score. Obviously, she likes to pass first, but we’re going to need her to score to be successful throughout the year.”
Megan Bozek got the final goal on a slap shot in the final minute of the second period to take much of the remaining drama out of the game.
“That was huge,” Frost said. “Anytime you’re within two goals, it’s a dangerous lead to have. I’d rather have it than up one, but certainly the dagger was that third goal with 20 seconds left.”
As the clock wound down, the biggest mystery was whether or not Sletta’s slate would stay clean.
“I’m not nervous in net, so I wasn’t going to get too fidgety or anything,” Sletta said.
Altmann finished with 49 saves on the night, a new career-high. She made 48 stops against Wisconsin in February 2010.
“We just didn’t put enough shifts back to back to back to start to take any momentum at all in that game,” Means said. “We played a little bit better in the third period, but it wasn’t enough. We need to carry that over to tomorrow night.”
The teams conclude their series on Friday night at 6:07 p.m. at Ridder Arena.