Minneapolis, MN- The SCSU Huskies put a scare in the #2-ranked University of Minnesota at Ridder Arena on Thursday, January 7 but fell short by a 2-1 margin. The unranked Huskies carried a 1-0 lead into the third period but two even-strength goals by Gophers leading scorer, Grace Zumwinkle were enough to thwart the Huskies first win in 47 tries at Ridder. This was the 100th all-time meeting between the teams with the Gophers carrying a 94-3-3 record vs St. Cloud State.
A closely contested first period had the Gophers outshooting SCSU 11-6 with the Huskies defending one power-play against the Gophers. It wasn’t until the second period that either team scored and it was the Huskies taking the first lead of the game on a goal by Olivia Cvar (Nylund) at 18:21 on the power play for her first goal of the season. On a heads up play by Nylund, she backhanded a pass from the left half-wall to Cvar who was stationed high in the slot, and she fired a shot past Gopher netminder Lauren Bench for a 1-0 lead. This was the first successful power-play goal on the Gophers in 17 opportunities this season. The Huskies were outshot 18-10 in the period but entered period three with a one-goal lead.
Trailing entering the final third of the game, the Gophers had to rely on leading goal scorer Grace Zumwinkle to climb back into the game. Zumwinkle, the Gopher’s most dangerous forward, beat SCSU’s Emma Polusny with a shot that caught the high left corner of the net from the high slot to knot the game at 1-1.
The Huskies probably hit their flat spot of the game four minutes into the period as they were flat-footed while the Gophers carried play in the SCSU end of the ice. However, the Huskies recovered and nearly took the lead on a point-blank slap-shot by Olivia Hanson with 12:50 remaining that was turned aside by Bench. Next, it was time for Polusny to come up big stopping a goalmouth backhand by first-line forward Emily Oden with 10:38 remaining and another on Anne Cherkowski who was cutting across the goalmouth two minutes later.
The Gophers finally took their first lead of the game with 5:35 remaining on Zumwinkle’s second goal of the game and 7th of the season. Off an offensive zone faceoff for the Gophers, the puck bounced to Zumwinkle and she used a forehand backhand move to beat Polusny for the 2-1 lead.
However, the Huskies kept battling and Jennina Nyland who had a strong game placed the puck off the left post from the left goalmouth area that would have tied the game.
SCSU pulled Polusny for the extra attacker with 2:10 remaining and despite controlling the puck quite well in the Gopher’s end were unable to convert the tying goal.
The Gophers outshot the Huskies 13-9 in the third period and 42-25 for the game. In a very strong outing for SCSU’s Emma Polusny she was called on to stop 40 of 42 shots on goal in the loss. Her record falls to 1-3-0. Lauren Bench turned aside 24 of 25 shots to earn her 5th win of the season against one loss.
The teams return to the ice at Ridder Arena on Saturday at 4:07 PM CT for the second game of this three-game series.