Autumn Zierman – Staff Writer
Gustavus Women’s Hockey opened its season this past weekend in a series win at Lake Forest. Friday kicked off the non-conference series win with a 4-1 victory, erasing a 1-0 deficit from the first period with two goals in both the second and third frames.
“Winning our first two games of the season was really huge for us. It has been awhile since any of us have played back-to-back games like that. I definitely think that the wins were a result of momentum and spirit that has been building up to those games. We, as a team, have been working really hard and we were really excited to finally be able to play our first series. I think that energy carried us through the weekend and will hopefully carry us throughout the rest of the season,” junior Molly McHugh said. McHugh assisted on the third goal of the first day and scored the first goal of the second day of the series.
“We obviously haven’t had back-to-back games in quite a while so we were a little nervous on how we would respond, but we got through it with the result we were looking for,” Head Coach Mike Carroll said.
The team completed the series sweep Saturday with a 3-0 victory against the Foresters. After a scoreless first period, the Gusties scored the game-winning goal 15 seconds into the second. Four minutes later the Gusties took advantage of a power play and scored the third and final goal of the game, once again on a power play, at the 13:30 mark.
“I would say [our wins] reflected the momentum we already had. It was good to get our first series under our belt. It was really nice to go back to a series— get back to a normal schedule. We were playing for a purpose; last year we didn’t know what was coming at the end of the season. It’s been really nice getting back to a normal schedule,” senior Kayla Vrieze said. Vrieze assisted the second score of the second-day game.
Gustavus Women’s Hockey travels again this weekend to start their first conference series against St. Kates. MIAC competitions are paramount as ever for the team, who held a meeting last week to develop goals for the season, one of which is to win the MIAC.
“Our team goal is to win the MIAC. With the team this year it’s something that is achievable. Our biggest rival has always been St. Thomas, but they left the division— we did like playing them though. Hamline is always really good. Augsburg is always a good series as well. St. Scholastica is new, so you never know what to expect,” Vrieze said.
“Every team in the MIAC is good competition. We are all after the same goal, to win the game, making every game a good competition,” McHugh said.
The team has had a lot of time to prepare for competition this year. Practice takes place nearly every day for anywhere from 1 ½ – 3 hours including ice and lift time.
“Our season started the second week of October. We had captains practice twice a week throughout September, but tryouts for the team and practice started in the beginning of October. Since starting again, practice has been high speed and fairly intense! We’re working towards getting back into shape and focusing on learning our systems, so we are readily prepared for games,” McHugh said.
With two wins already under their belt, that practice is playing off. The team is also unique this year for the number of seniors on it— 8 this year compared to last year’s one. With a class of both sophomores and freshmen that haven’t before played series style in college, the breadth of experience from the upper class comes in handy.
“One thing unique this year is we have eight seniors. The majority of my class stuck with it. We pushed each other to be better- we all really enjoy hockey! This year is tough for First-years and Sophomores, it’s helpful to have the experience on the team with the majority team as upperclassmen,” Vrieze said.
Going into the season from here, the team hopes to win both the MIAC and place in the Frozen Four Championship. With experienced upperclassmen and momentum from their last series, all of Gustavus is cheering them on to do just that.