Final Stretch Ahead

For its final regular season series, the UND women’s hockey team will head on the road to face Ohio State in hopes of avenging its sweep by Minnesota State-Mankato last weekend at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Despite the sweep by Mankato, UND still remains positive with one last series to go before playoffs start and its Olympics athletes soon returning. The team will take the positives out of the losses.

“I think one of the things over the weekend was we put a lot of shots up and that’s great,” UND coach Brian Idalski said. “I didn’t think that we won the middle of the ice and I didn’t think we got as many second chance opportunities. We definitely need to be a little grittier in those areas and in front of the net and rebounds, and so that’s been something we’re addressing with practice. Just a little bit of poise coming down the stretch.”

UND continues to take it week by week as the season continues.

“Definitely didn’t get what we wanted last weekend, but we are bouncing back this week,” sophomore Meghan Dufault said. “It’s a new week. We are going to fight for this weekend. It’s really important for us to just focus on these next few games and the rest of the season and not dwell too much on what happened but learn from it.”

Despite the need for improvement, the coaching staff remains optimistic.

“I’m not overly concerned about it,” Idalski said. “We played pretty well. You’re going to run into a game of hockey — sometimes you hit a hot goalie or you go through a bit where you’re not finishing and things aren’t flowing. We have honestly, when you sit back and look at what our group is comprised of as far as our youth. That’s the first real bit of that, that they’ve faced as a club.”

One major factor that was looked at heading into this last series and then into playoffs was the goalie situation.

So far, goaltenders Shelby Amsley-Benzie and Lexie Shaw have been rotated consistently throughout the year. Heading into playoffs, though, it usually comes down to one.

“Both kids are playing well,” Idalski said. “I don’t think either goaltender can really be faulted for some of the breakdowns in front of them over the weekend. They’re both playing well and they’re both going to play this weekend.”

With the Olympians soon to return once, line adjustments will be made.

“I think the biggest thing is just making sure that they’re rested mentally and physically,” Idalski said. “Obviously when we have our first look at everybody back for next week in practice, it’s going to be pretty exciting.”

Mariah Holland is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].