Women’s hockey ends season with tough loss to Gophers

Womens hockey ends season with tough loss to Gophers

UND goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie prepares for a shot against St. Cloud State in the playoffs. Photo by Nick Nelson/ The Dakota Student. 

UND goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie’s 32 saves not enough to overcome 2-0 loss. 

As the final whistle blows, the UND women’s hockey team closed its season, falling 2-0 against the Minnesota Gophers in the WCHA Final Face-Off over the weekend.

The end of the season also marks the final season for eight of UND’s outstanding seniors, including starting goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie.

During her career at UND, Amsley-Benzie has managed to set every goaltending record in the program’s history. The Warroad, Minn. native went 16-11-4 on the season and shutout teams such as Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The Hawks were outshot by the Gophers 34-21 while Minnesota held a 2-0 lead throughout the first two periods. Discipline issues allowed the Gophers to capitalize on one of UND’s five penalties, which gave Minnesota the lead, courtesy of Sydney Baldwin.

Gopher forward Amanda Kessel would follow up in the second and bury the Hawks for good at 2-0.

“We would have preferred to play a little more five-on-five,” UND coach Brian Idalski said. “It was a bit of a choppy game with special teams, and I don’t think that necessarily played into our benefit in any way, shape or form. Their power play is terrific. I don’t really want to give them opportunities like we did today.”

That lack of discipline would also haunt the Hawks in the third period.

“Tough game,” Idalski said. “The 5-on-3 killed us in the third period. That was a huge momentum swing.”

Minnesota’s Kessel and Hannah Brandt did a great job of denying UND of any momentum.

“They were reading properly; they were stepping up and being super aggressive and challenging us,” Idalski said. “They didn’t really let us have any space and on a 5-on-3. That was a little demoralizing.”

In the final minutes, UND pulled Amsley-Benzie for the extra attacker and things looked promising. UND nearly cut Minnesota’s lead in half with a goal from junior Amy Menke. However, after an official review, it was determined that the goal was disallowed due to Menke being in the goal crease.

“I had no idea there was even any controversy or opportunity for that to be waved off,” Idalski said. “They just said she was in the crease; it wasn’t a good goal. That was pretty                            much the end of it.”

The season might be over but not before the UND student-athletes bring home WCHA honors.

16 players from UND’s squad were named All Academic-Honorees. For her second-consecutive season, Amsley-Benzie has been named the WCHA’s Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year. Amsley-Benzie joins captain Halli Krzyzaniak on the 2015-16 All-WCHA Third Team. As a junior, Menke was named to the 2015-16 All-WCHA Second Team. Finally, freshman Anna Kilponen has claimed a spot on the 2015-16 WCHA All-Rookie Team.

This was a season of up and downs for the Hawks, and the playoffs were a microcosm of that. In the first week, UND demolished St. Cloud State and played near-perfect hockey. But then a week later, they were unable to replicate that success against a stout Gopher team.

Now that the season is over, UND and its players will focus on building a more consistent and stronger team for the next year.

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