St. Cloud, MN – The St. Cloud State University women’s hockey team completes their home regular-season schedule this weekend facing the Minnesota State University Mavericks. Following this weekend, the Huskies finish their season with weekend series at Ohio State and Bemidji State University.
This week, the Women’s League of the WCHA announced that the WCHA Final Faceoff will take place at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis on March 6-7. This will be a four-team, three-game playoff based on the final league standings.
Currently, Ohio State is the fourth-place team with 26 points and a .619 points percentage. SCSU currently stands with 10.5 points and a .233 points percentage making it virtually impossible to qualify for that Final Faceoff position.
SCSU Huskies (2-7-0 ) vs MSU Mavericks (1-6-1 )
Last Time Out
The Huskies were swept by the UMD Bulldogs by a combined score of 10-1 last weekend in Duluth. On Friday, UMD charged to a 3-0 lead before Taylor Lind scored her fourth goal of the season with one second remaining in period two. The Bulldogs added another in the final period in the 4-1 win. Emma Polusny stopped 45/49 (.918 SV%) shots in the loss.
In the rematch, a scoreless first period with shots essentially even led to 60 minutes dominated by the Bulldogs in a 6-0 win. The Bulldogs scored four times in the final period to complete the sweep. Sanni Ahola turned aside 35/41 (.853%) shots on goal in the loss.
The Mavericks hosted Bemidji State last weekend and earned two overtime wins in two tightly contested games. On Friday, the teams skated to a scoreless game in regulation with the Mavericks outshooting BSU 28-17. The Mavericks prevailed in overtime with Kelsey King scoring on the first shot 45 seconds into the session for a 1-0 win.
In the series finale, the contest was pushed to overtime for the second consecutive game after skating to a 2-2 tie in regulation. This time it was Jessica Kondas making quick work of things scoring 52 seconds into overtime on the Mavericks second shot. Goaltender Calla Frank won both games to improve her record to 5-7-1.
This will be the 94th and 95th all-time meetings between the teams. SCSU holds a 44-36-13 advantage with the teams splitting their last series on November 27-28 in St. Cloud.
Minnesota State University Notes
The Mavericks are finishing the season strong having won 4 of their last six contests. Led by former SCSU men’s hockey assistant John Harrington and former SCSU women’s hockey head coach Jeff Geisen they have a squad with a good mix of experience with 10 upperclassmen.
Undoubtedly, their best player is junior defenseman Anna Wilgren a defenseman from Hudson, WI. She logs a ton of minutes, plays in every conceivable situation, and is tied with another quality defender, senior Tristan Truax with five points to lead the defense. Senior Jessica Kondas is having a solid season registering 2 goals and 2 assists. At forward, they have a productive trio in sophomore Kelsey King (7-5-12), freshman Jamie Nelson (6-5-11), and senior Brittyn Fleming (4-6-10). These three have combined for 60% of the team’s goal-scoring.
In goal, they have one of the top young goaltenders in the WCHA in Calla Frank (5-7-1) who carries a .912 SV% and 2.50 goals-against average with two shutouts. The 2019 Lets Play Hockey Goaltender of the Year in MN high school hockey was also named to the WCHA All-Rookie team after the 2019-20 season.
The Mavericks are 5th in the conference in both scoring offense and defense scoring an average of 1.88 goals per game but allowing 2.75 goals per game. Special teams have been efficient with the penalty kill 2nd in the league at 92.2 percent and the power play second as well scoring on 15.2 percent of their opportunities.
St. Cloud State University Notes
It’s been a difficult season for the Huskies currently residing in last place in the conference with both their offense (1.27/G) and defense (3.67/G) in the same position.
Part of the issue is youth with 12 first-year players and a team going through the growing pains as a result. But, they are also suffering from a lack of scoring from players such as Klara Hymlarova who put up 26 points and eight goals last season and has struggled with one goal and five assists this season, and Olivia Cvar, a 10 goal scorer in 2019-20 has netted one-goal this season.
Jennina Nylund leads the squad in points with seven positioning her in a tie for 26th in the conference. There are a few bright spots with first-year forward Emma Gentry currently eighth in freshman scoring with four goals and five points and a tie for fourth in goal scoring. She also has two game-winning goals. Another bright spot has been sophomore, Taylor Lind who has been one of the more consistent scorers as of late with three goals in January and is now tied for the team lead in goals with four.
The defense is led by seniors Hannah Bates and Kenzie Wylie and as a unit, they are a reflection of the team’s overall results. Not a single member of the unit is in the plus and as a whole, they are a combined -62.
Goaltending has been a victim of overall team play and both senior Emma Polsny and freshman Sanni Ahola have seen their numbers drop as a result. Facing an average of 40 shots on goal per game they’ve hung in there with Polusny’s save percentage at 91.6% and Ahola’s at 90.3%.
Special teams results are mixed with the Huskies fourth in the league on the penalty kill at 88.6% and the power play fifth converting only at 7.3% (3/41)
This will be another tough, tightly contested in-state battle for the Huskies. The coaching staff shuffled the lines last weekend to try to generate a spark in the offense yet they still only scored one goal in 120 minutes of play. We’ll have to see what approach they take to the lines this week. It’ll be imperative the Huskies play a disciplined game as the Mavericks have the second-best power play in the conference.
In his weekly press conference Head coach, Steve Macdonald noted their key to success vs the Mavericks will be “Execution, compete level and increasing our defensive game. We believe we are a team that can play very well at high speed and is able to generate our own chances through the rush.” He described the Mavericks as a “Team that plays fast and they rely on a very high shot volume. They have a lot of shooters on their team and they play a very hard and fast game so it’s going to be a competitive game.”
Game Note: Saturday will be Senior Day with five seniors honored including Emma Polusny, Laura Kluge, Kenzie Wylie, Emma Bigham, and Hannah Bates.