Freshman goalie Jennifer Harss said she had the best game of her brief college career Sunday afternoon as No. 6-ranked Minnesota Duluth blanked St. Cloud State 2-0 in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association women’s game before 382 at the DECC.
Harss, an Olympian from Germany, will need to be good, and careful, for the foreseeable future. Right now, she’s the only goalie the Bulldogs have on the roster. Backup Lana Steck, a sophomore, sprained an ankle during pregame warmups Saturday and is on crutches.
Coach Shannon Miller has had three goalies per team in her first 10 years at UMD, but decided to go with two this season, while Kim Martin will return next season after playing for Sweden in the 2010 Winter Games.
“We’re hoping to find a student at UMD who has played high school girls hockey and is willing to help us out,” Miller said.
Harss had 24 saves as UMD finished a sweep of St. Cloud State to open the league season and tie Minnesota for first place at 2-0. Freshman center Katie Wilson had a second-period goal and freshman defenseman Mariia Posa of Finland scored with eight seconds to play for her first collegiate goal.
The Bulldogs (3-1) killed all eight St. Cloud State power plays, and all 15 for the series. The play around the net, said Harss, was fierce.
“It’s very different compared to where I had been; especially sticks and players hitting the goalie. It is aggressive in front of the goalie,” said Harss, ranked the best goalie last season in the Bavarian League, playing for EV Pfronten.
While it’s unknown how long Steck will be out, the Bulldogs are also missing sophomore defenseman Tara Gray, who dislocated a shoulder Sunday.
UMD outshot St. Cloud State 31-24 and 75-47 for the series. The Huskies (1-3) had sophomore Tayler VanDenakker in goal, while Ashley Nixon worked Saturday’s 5-3 loss.
“We worked as hard as we could [with a depleted] lineup and our players gave what they had. The penalty killing was very good,” said Miller.
The Bulldogs have a first-place showdown this Friday and Saturday at Minnesota.
St. Cloud State……………0-0-0–0
First period – No scoring. Penalties – Jessica Wong, UMD (checking), :57; Kirsti Hakala, UMD (holding), 11:00; Danielle Hirsch, St. Cloud State (slashing), 14:31; Mariia Posa, UMD (tripping), 19:13
Second period – 1. UMD, Katie Wilson 2 (Audrey Cournoyer), 16:42. Penalties – Hakala, UMD (too many players on ice), 6:20; Meagan Pezon, St. Cloud State (tripping), 13:53.
Third period – 2. UMD, Posa 1 (Vanessa Thibault, Emmanuelle Blais), 19:52 (4×4). Penalties – Wilson, UMD (checking), 3:29; Ellie Sitek, St. Cloud State (slashing), 5:36; Laura Fridfinnson, UMD (slashing), 6:15; Kelly Meierhofer, St. Cloud State (interference), 9:59; Fridfinnson, UMD (interference), 11:46; Blais, UMD (roughing), 13:50; Kylie Lane, St. Cloud State (tripping), 18:34; Sarah Murray, UMD (interference), 18:50.
Shots on goal – St. Cloud State 9-8-7–24, UMD 14-8-9–24. Goalies – Tayler VanDenakker (0-2), St. Cloud State (31 shots-29 saves); Jennifer Harss (3-1), UMD (24 shots-24 saves). Power plays – St. Cloud State 0-of-8, UMD 0-of-5. Referees – Dan Lick, Dave Lick. A – 382.