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Racking up W’s

MSU women’s hockey wins 12th straight on Senior Day

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot State forward Mackenzie Balogh unleashes a slap shot for a goal in the second period Sunday afternoon against Assiniboine Community College at Maysa Arena.

All the Minot State women’s hockey team does is win, apparently.

The ACHA Division II West Region No. 1-ranked Beavers (24-1-0) wrapped up a near flawless regular season with a 9-2 Senior Day victory Sunday afternoon against West Region No. 2-ranked Assiniboine Community College (16-6-1) at Maysa Arena.

The only blemish on the Beavers’ record this season is a 5-4 defeat back in November against Lakehead — the team that beat Minot State in ACHA Division II national championship game last season.

With a convincing sweep over the Assiniboine Cougars this weekend, winning 7-1 on Saturday as well, MSU is now riding a 12-game winning streak.

“There are a couple teams in the league that can skate with us,” MSU head coach Ryan Miner said. “But, we have a few players on our team that stand out. When we need to get a goal, they get us a goal.”

Alex Eisen/MDN MSU forward and Minot native Bryanna Bergeron drops the puck back on the ice in an ACHA Division II women's hockey game Sunday in Minot.

The Beavers and Cougars traded goals in the first period.

BethAnn Goudy opened the scoring 2:17 into the contest by knocking in a cross-crease pass from Mackenzie Balogh.

Assiniboine answered a minute and a half later with a shot from the point by Haylee Anderson that glanced off the glove of MSU goaltender Shelby Tornato.

Two minutes later, the Cougars took the lead when Simone Turner Cummer arrived on the scene to poke in a rebound sitting in the crease.

“Once we started to get into the flow of things, we started to move the puck a lot better,” Miner said. “It worked out in our favor.”

The Beavers thought they had the equalizer shortly after, as a resounding ping echoed through Maysa Arena. The puck had struck the right post and was quickly signaled as a goal by the official located behind the net.

However, the goal was waved off after Assiniboine coaches, players and even spectators questioned the physics and trajectory of the puck. There was no way a puck could have smacked the post from that angle, be called a goal and then end up over in the corner of the rink once play had been stopped.

Despite the disallowed goal, MSU eventually evened the score at 2-2 going into the first intermission.

Goudy battled through a scrum in the middle of the ice for her second goal coming on a power play.

“Yesterday it was kind of the same way, as it was 1-1 two minutes into the game,” Balogh said. “We had to regroup after the first period, come out and play Beaver hockey.”

Two MSU goals in the second period helped break the game open. Balogh ripped a slap shot for the third goal and Vanessa Grimstad netted another power play tally.

Seniors Gabrielle Wigness and Grimstad were honored during the second intermission for Senior Day.

“It was amazing,” Grimstad said. “(The game) turned out exactly how we wanted it to go.”

Miner added: “(Grimstad) was here even before I was here. She helped build the program and is one of the reasons why this program is even here.”

Balogh buried her second goal of the game 44 seconds into the third period on a delayed penalty that was coming to Assiniboine. Eight seconds later, Clarissa Lewis scored a power play goal to make it 6-2 in a hurry.

“As you can tell, we all play really well together,” Balogh said. “It’s been nice and easy this season. Everyone gets along so well.”

Frustration had set in for Assiniboine, highlighted by winger Alyssa Alderson receiving a game misconduct penalty for arguing after delivering a body check.

MSU killed off a 5-on-3 Cougars’ power play and then scored again. Former Minot High School standout Bryanna Bergeron went on a solo rush and snuck in a slow-rolling backhanded shot eight minutes into the third period.

The scoring party continued.

MSU forward Nadya Keenan found the back of the net for just the second time this season, even though Assiniboine protested that she had kicked the puck in. And Balogh scored a short-handed goal to claim her hat trick in style.

“I don’t really remember,” Balogh said when trying to recall all her goals. “But, I know my teammates know all of the work that went into them. I was kind of just in the right places at the right time.”

While Sunday’s matinee marked the end of the regular season, MSU will play two exhibition games against the Interlake Lightning from the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League AAA.

“I’m not really sure on the protocol, but they say teams need three weeks to get ready (for nationals),” Miner said. “Honestly, I would give the girls a week off and jump right into it.”

With the way the Beavers are currently playing, it’s hard to question that logic.

Nonetheless, the two tune-up games prior to the ACHA Division II National Tournament will be played March 15-16 at Maysa Arena.

The national tournament will run from March 27-31 in Frisco, Texas.

“We have to wait a whole month and that will be tough,” Grimstad said. “We are excited to go and build off this momentum, but we can also rest up to be ready for those five games in Texas.”

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.

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