The Women’s Hockey team continued their hot start to the season this past week with two victories against Augsburg.
The squad is currently undefeated at 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the MIAC, which has earned the Gusties the No. 4 ranking nationally.
Hamline and St. Thomas are two other MIAC schools looming ahead on the Gusties’ schedule who are also ranked in the top ten at numbers eight and nine, respectively.
The Gusties opened up this series against the Auggies before Thanksgiving break on Friday, Nov. 22, travelling to Ed Saugestad Rink in Minneapolis.
The Auggies threatened early with a couple of strong power plays, but nice saves from First-year goalie Katie McCoy staved off the onslaught until the Gusties could get their offense going.
First-year Hailey Holland started the scoring for the Gusties with a nice goal at the 11:49 mark, her second of the season. Augsburg then netted the equalizer with 2:29 left in the period and the teams headed into the first intermission tied.
“The youth on this team is something that we are trying to use to our advantage because they are fresh and eager to learn,” Head Coach Mike Carroll said. “They’ve been working hard and it’s good to see them have these results. What was really cool to see after the first period was how we responded because Augsburg got two power plays right away, which took our flow away, but we killed those off and got a goal and escaped the first period 1-1. The resiliency the kids showed in the second and third is something you’d expect from a veteran team. That was really encouraging.”
The second period saw the Gustie offense begin to blossom, as First-year Alaina Halverson scored her first collegiate goal 4:26 into the period, with First-year Molly McHugh and Sophomore Kristina Press assisting. Sophomore Jamie Byrne hopped into the scoring party with a nice goal with just over two minutes remaining in the period, assisted by Sophomore Grace Schulte.
The final period once again saw both teams notching one goal. Gustavus struck first, as Press added the insurance goal with the help of McHugh for a 4-1 lead. Augsburg scored another goal late in the game with an extra attacker, but it was too little too late and Gustavus emerged with the 4-2 victory.
The Gusties accrued four tripping penalties throughout the match and spent eight minutes in the penalty box, but killed off all four Auggie power plays to remain perfect on the penalty kill this season.
Game flow was crucial, as the first and third periods were statistically even but Gustavus put the pressure on in the second with a 14-2 shot advantage and ended the game with a 29-25 lead in shots.
The next day both teams met again at 2 p.m. at Gustavus’ Don Roberts rink.
Both teams were sluggish out of the gate and the first period passed without a goal being scored. The second period was a different story, as Gustavus came storming out of the locker room and scored the game’s only goal just 2:06 into the frame. First-year Clara Billings did the honors unassisted, her team-leading fifth goal of the season.
“I was really happy with how we played in the second period because we did not start fast in the first,” Head Coach Mike Carroll said. “The effort, attitude, and grit were awesome in the second. We’re a little inconsistent but I guess that’s to be expected with all the younger players that are playing major minutes.”
In a desperate attempt to even the score Augsburg pulled their goalie in the waning minutes of the game, but a smothering Gustie defense and strong play from Sophomore goaltender Emilia Helms-Leslie doused the flames of any potential rally. Helms-Leslie made 20 saves in goal, and the Gusties secured their seventh victory in shutout fashion.
The Gusties have been dominant on both ends of the ice this season, outscoring opponents 20-4. “We can’t let our hot start stop us from getting better each and every day. Even though we haven’t lost a game yet, we’ve still had our ups and downs and we continue to strive for consistency. We have a young team with a lot of depth, which allows us to really push each other in practice. All three of our goalies have been playing for us and performing amazingly. This team has also been doing well with facing adversity, as we always pick each other up in the locker room and on the bench when things aren’t going our way,” Sophomore forward Jamie Byrne said.
The Gusties had their matchup with UW-Superior on Nov. 26, 2019 cancelled due to inclement weather, and take the ice next on Friday against Saint Mary’s.