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WOMEN'S HOCKEY: UND loses to Minnesota State-Mankato 4-2

The road to the NCAA tournament didn’t get any easier on Saturday afternoon.

UND, a bubble team with two weeks left in the regular season, lost to Minnesota State-Mankato 4-2 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Lauren Barnes had a goal and two assists, while teammates Nicole Germaine, Katie Johnson and Shelby Moteyunas all had goals to help the Mavericks end a seven-game losing streak to UND dating back to the 2012 season opener.

“We knew all along that we were going to have to be flawless down the stretch,” said UND coach Brian Idalski, whose team played its sixth straight game without its three Olympians. “That didn’t happen today, so we put ourselves in some danger. I won’t know for a little bit what that means, but overall, it’s not a great spot to be in. I can tell you that.”

Immediately after the game, UND was in a three-way tie for seventh in the Pairwise Rankings. A top eight spot is the minimum needed to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.

“I try not to get too caught up in that stuff,” said UND forward Meghan Dufault, who scored a goal. “But I don’t think this will do us any good.”

The Mavericks (11-19-1) will try to sweep UND today (2:07 p.m., Ralph Engelstad Arena) for the first time in the Idalski era.

The game got off to a good start for UND (17-8-4).

UND defenseman Gracen Hirschy blasted a point shot through Mankato goalie Danielle Butters (45 saves), but it went just wide of the net. Crookston native Shannon Kaiser picked it up and fired it off of Butters’ skate and in the net at 8:36 of the first.

The Mavericks responded with back-to-back goals, though.

Johnson buried a rebound of her own shot at 10:19 and Moteyunas’ point shot hit off of UND defenseman Johanna Fallman and went into the net at 16:29.

The Mavericks opened up a two-goal lead on Germaine’s power-play goal just 1:05 into the second period.

UND got back into the game when Dufault scored on a rebound of a Hirschy shot, but Barnes gave Mankato a two-goal cushion again with a wraparound at 10:58.

“We definitely turned the puck over way too much,” Idalski said. “I thought that was a big issue for us. I thought we shot ourselves in the foot a lot of times, and they did a nice job finishing on them.”

UND put a ton of pressure on the Mavericks in the third period, outshooting them 23-6, but they didn’t get any by Butters.

“We need to come out harder next time and play a full 60 minutes,” Dufault said. “We didn’t give the effort that we should have. In the last two minutes, with the goalie pulled, we were on every puck. We should have played like that the whole game. Then, we wouldn’t have ended up like we did.”

Idalski agreed that the effort needed to improve.

“We understood where we were once we were down,” Idalski said. “So, there’s a huge element of desperation on our part. You can’t wait to be down like that to play with that kind of hunger. That’s how the game should have started.”

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 12th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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