Friday night the Gophers hosted Minnesota State for the first game of their final home series this season. Minnesota’s first solid chance of the game came on a Nicole Schammel breakaway, which Mavericks defense foiled before she could reach goaltender Chloe Crosby. Jordan McLaughlin’s breakaway attempt was more successful, but she couldn’t out psych Sidney Peters and ultimately flubbed her shot. Sydney Baldwin had a couple of solid attempts, first a flyby attempt where she shot past the D and then a left point shot, but Crosby blocked both shots and then smothered the puck after the second one caused a scramble in her crease.
Minnesota State’s first direct shot on goal was a doozy, as Rebekah Kolstad passed back to Tristen Truax at the right circle and she fired through traffic into the top left pocket of the net at 12:11. The goal left Minnesota buzzing for an equalizer, though eventually the puck ended up back in their own zone. During one of these instances Hannah Davidson chased the puck into Peters’s crease as the goalie tried to coral it and Katie Robinson tackled her. Robinson earned a trip to the box for cross-checking at 15:56 and during the resulting penalty, which the Gophers killed, Cara Piazza nearly scored a shorthanded goal. However, by the end of the period MSU still lead 1-0.
That quickly changed second period when Caitlin Reilly’s pass from behind the goal line found Baldwin in the slot and she banged the puck home just 26 seconds into second period. The Gophers nearly scored again from the doorstep and then turned the Mavericks’ zone into a shooting gallery with notable attempts coming from Alex Woken and Lindsay Agnew. Reilly then carried the puck down the right side and attempted a back pass to Schammel at the crease, but the defender had her stymied and unable to connect. Minnesota’s persistence eventually paid off and Grace Zumwinkle made a shot from the left circle that Crosby was wholly unable to defend against and scored unassisted at 8:53.
Minnesota scored again when Emily Brown made a laser shot from the left point that went in top shelf at 10:26. Sophie Skarzynski had the lone assist. The Gophers pressed for a fourth goal, but instead ended up in a three-body pile up at the crease. A Maverick made a fly by attempt on Peters, who hit the ice full force after an excellent toe save. Zumwinkle carried the puck into MSU’s zone on the left side by leaping over a stick without losing control and then a play or two later put a slapper on net that Crosby denied. Peters made a nice high save where she smacked the puck away from out of the air. Then Kolstad took an interference penalty at 16:10, which harmlessly expired two minutes later.
In third period the Mavericks did their best to put the pressure on Minnesota. Kolstad came down the left side and tried to pass through Peters’s crease to Truax for a backdoor goal, but couldn’t connect. Then a Corbin Boyd to Anna Keys attempt went high. Sofia Poinar also had a solid chance. At 11:42 MSU used their timeout to revise strategy. It must have worked because Davidson sent passed from the right side to Truax, who was in the high slot just left of the right circle, and she top shelved the puck at 12:19.
Making it a one-goal game restored the Mavericks’ vigor and McLaughlin nearly tied things despite Gopher defense. There was a lot of end-to-end rink racing before Crosby was pulled at 19:52 for the extra skater. It seemed like it was going to turn into a tie game. Instead the puck ended up at Mankato’s blue line and Taylor Wente flew by, smacked the puck, and it gracefully arched over the entire zone into the empty net at 19:27. Woken assisted. Crosby was restored to her crease for the last 33 seconds of the game and Minnesota won 4-2. The Gophers finish the series against Minnesota State Saturday afternoon at 4:07pm CT, which is not only the last home game of the regular season, but also Senior Day to celebrate the graduating team members.