St. Cloud State women’s hockey fall to UND in first game of WCHA playoffs

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The St. Cloud State Husky women’s hockey team (13-17-4, 9-15-4 WCHA) fell to the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (17-11-5, 13-10-5 WCHA) 6-1 in the first game of their three game series Friday at the Ralph Englestad Arena.

The Fighting Hawks would strike first, as Layla Marvin put a shot past senior goaltender Katie Fitzgerald 4:56 into the first period to give UND a 1-0 lead. The Huskies would attempt to answer back, by continuing the pressure in an attempt to find the game tying goal before the end of the first period. North Dakota goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie would hold strong, thwarting off attempt after attempt to keep the Fighting Hawks up by a goal after the first period.

The floodgates would open in the middle of the second period, when the Fighting Hawks scored two goals in 18 seconds to lead 3-0. They weren’t done there, scoring two more goals by Becca Kohler and Sam LaShomb to put North Dakota up 5-0 at the end of the second period. The Fighting Hawks outshot the Huskies 15 to 3 in the period.

Despite the large deficit, the Huskies kept fighting. They would get their first real opportunity on the power play, as North Dakota’s Gracen Hirschy was called for a slashing penalty 5:22 into the third period. The Huskies would waste no time, scoring on the power play from sophomore defenseman Brittney Anderson to cut the lead to 5-1. Senior Molly Illikainen registered an assist on the goal, her 99th career point.

It was too little, too late, as North Dakota continued raining shots on Fitzgerald to finish the game. North Dakota would find the net once more, scoring on a shot by Amy Menke with 41 seconds left in the game to capture the 6-1 victory.

Fitzgerald finished the contest with 28 saves, as Amsley-Benzie saved 15 shots, with the lone goal for the Huskies conceded on the power play.

The two teams will again face off in the second game of the series Feb. 27 at 2:37 p.m. at the Ralph Englestad Arena in Grand Forks.

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