This weekend was gut check time for the Mercyhurst College women’s hockey team against the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. The Lakers were handed their first defeat of the season in the second of back-to-back games.
The Lakers pulled off a thrilling win on Friday night, defeating the Bulldogs, 5-2.
Minnesota-Duluth tallied the first two scores of the game, their only tallies of the game.
The Lakers’ first goal came from sophomore Bailey Bram during a power play with 4:30 remaining in the first. She then tied up the game while short-handed at 2:33 into the second.
It took a mere nine seconds for sophomore Jess Jones to give the Lakers the lead while still down a player. At 17:45, junior Cassea Schols racked up number four during a Lakers power play.
Junior Melissa Lacroix closed out the third period at 14:53. Mercyhurst outshot Minnesota-Duluth, both in even-strength and power-play hockey.
The Lakers’ special teams carried the team, as all five goals were short-handed or on the power play.
“Going into the weekend, we were really focused on improving our power play because that was something we have struggled with all season. We practiced hard at it all week and it paid off because we scored some huge power-play goals,” junior captain Vicki Bendus said.
Saturday, unfortunately, was a different story.
After a scoreless first period, the Bulldogs rushed to a 3-0 lead in the second before Bram put up the first goal during a power play with just 22 seconds left in the period.
Late in the third, the Lakers were trailing 4-1. Junior Ashley Cockell closed the lead to one after scoring two goals. The first was on the power play. The second came only 61 seconds later.
The Lakers could not net the equalizer, however, and they fell to 7-1 on the season with their first loss.
“We are disappointed with the loss on Saturday, but we’re happy to still be in the number one spot in the country right now. This weekend showed us that any team can beat another team any night, despite their rankings,” Bendus said.
The Lakers try to get back on track next weekend at Wayne State on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.
“We know that the Wayne State games are going to be a battle because we have a great rivalry with them. The games will be tough, but if we play like we’re capable of (playing) we should be able to win the series,” Bendus said.