Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gopher Hockey Update: 10 March, 2012


Different week.  Same train.  Same victim.  I was really nervous about this game all week, but it was entirely over whether the Gophers could manage the same level of intensity and play they showed last week.  I was sure, if they could, they’d win pretty easily.
I knew we were in good shape when they came out of the tunnel for the pregame introductions like they were being shot out of a cannon.  As they hit the ice, there is video on our fancy new scoreboard and the eighteen skaters sprinted the whole distance from the locker room to the rink.  The goalies weren’t quite so speedy, but they tried.  
And the game was pretty much over at that point.  Stephanie Ney, North Dakota’s starting goalie put the exclamation point on it by allowing Emily West to score on an innocuous shot from the blue line.  It wasn’t a bas shot, as West was sliding to her left and shot the puck back against the flow with a screen up high, but Ney never moved.  Considering the effort she put into chances over the rest of the game, West has to be puzzled as to which one she scored on.
Whioux coach Brian Idelski pulled Ney right then.  Jorid Dagfinrud was better, stopping 1st period breakaways by Amanda Kessel and Sarah Davis.  The first isn’t as impressive as it sounds, as I’ve never seen an elite scorer with great hands who is as bad on breakaways as Kessel is.  As is often the case, she didn’t even get off much a shot.  On the other hand, Dagfinrud stole one from Davis, who made a great move. 
It never really mattered, though.  North Dakota had only one good scoring chance in the first period and that came from a fluky bounce off of Bailey Gillanders’ skate and resulted in a statement save from Noora Räty.  North Dakota controlled the play to start the second period, but Davis pounded one in at 3:44 that crushed the NoDaks.  Halfway through the period, Kessel demonstrated that she’s better with someone draped all over her, as Jocelyn Lamoureux had a big time hook on her to prevent a clean breakaway without preventing Kessel from drilling one inside the far post for a shorthanded goal.  Sarah Erickson finished off the period chipping in a power play goal.
The only drama of the third period was whether or not the Gophers would manage to put one into an empty net.  North Dakota played more than seven and a half minutes with Dagfinrud pulled and ruined Räty’s 240+ minute shutout stretch with a 6-on-3 advantage.  We never did manage to find the empty net, despite playing multiple minutes in their end.  The last serious try was when Nikki Ludwigson hit a defenseman with about a minute left. 
We’re now off to play Cornell on Friday.  The Big Red survived almost two full games today.  They and BU each scored seven times over the first 60 minutes, and then it took 59:50 for either to score again.  Just like a week ago, I really think we should win this game.  Not only are we playing really, really well, but Cornell has played suspect opposition all year long.  I like our chances to be playing for a national title next Sunday against either BC or Wisconsin.  Bc came back to win 6-3 after being down 3-1 in the second.  The Badgers, meanwhile, did nothing to enhance any feeling of inevitability as they struggled to beat Mercyhurst 3-1, including an empty netter.

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