Inconsistency hurts Hawks

UND forward Anna Kilponen takes a shootout shot during a loss to rival Wisconsin on Dec. 12. Photo by Nick Nelson/The Dakota Student 

Revving up to start the second half of the season, the UND women’s hockey team is looking to continue developing into a playoff contending team.

Looking back at the first half of the season, the Fighting Hawks struggled to sweep crucial series’ that ultimately landed them the No. 9 spot in the polls. 

As the first half of the season came to a close, UND made every effort in a  hard-fought win and a shootout loss against the formerly undefeated Wisconsin Badgers. 

Upon returning from the winter break, the Hawks had the opportunity to play an exhibition series against the               Minnesota Whitecaps, whose roster includes current UND women’s hockey strength coach Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and fellow alumnus Monique Lamoureux and Josefine Jakobsen.

To open the second half of the season, the women’s team played an exhibition series allowed for all skaters to get back into game ready condition.

“We wanted to give our younger kids some minutes and opportunities to play and use it as a development opportunity for them,” UND coach Brian Idalski said. “This game wasn’t about today, it was about next year and our younger kids, this game is about next weekend and getting ready for that, while giving our international kids some rest.”

UND had to work with a shortened bench during the series, as the team was missing defensemen Tanja Eisenschmid and Anna Kilponen and forwards Becca Kohler and Vilma Tanskanen; all returning from the 2016 Nations Cups in Germany.

With that many key players not skating, it was hard for the Hawks to be competitive. Game one saw UND blown out by the Whitecaps 6-1, with the Hawks’ lone goal coming from Meghan Dufault. Game two was more positive though, as the women’s team put together a resilient effort that ended in a 1-0 loss.

While there was not a lot to smile about from the two losses, the games did provide an opportunity for a familiar face to get some ice time. Game one of the series allowed for Michigan native Lexie Shaw to stretch out and get reaclimated to being a goaltender. She has not seen a start in net since October against St. Cloud State.

The major goals for the team have been continuous throughout the season and are projected into the second half of the season as well.

“Consistency is everything,” UND forward Charly Dahlquist said. “We need to be able to sweep teams. Right now, in the second half of the season every game matters and the teams we lost against in the first half we need to go out there and win in the second half.”

This team has made some great strides this season, especially against top-ranked teams such as Minnesota and Wisconsin, but the players will be the first ones to tell fans that there is a lot more work to be done.

“We play down to the level of the teams we play,” Dahlquist said. “If we think they’re an easier team we play to their level, but we need to stay consistent at the UND level we know we can play to win.”

With a difficult schedule ahead, all remaining series’ are crucial conference teams in this half of the season beginning on the road against Minnesota Duluth. The Fighting Hawks will take on the Bulldogs this weekend with both Friday’s and Saturday’s games set for 3 p.m.

Allyson Bento is a sports writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]