There were some frustrating moments at the start of the season for the UND women’s hockey team with the team struggling to score and posting a 4-5 record through nine games.
But since its third-period comeback win over No. 2 Clarkson three weeks ago, UND appears to have turned the ship in the right direction. UND swept Minnesota-Duluth for the first time in program history over the weekend, extending its winning streak to five games. UND has re-discovered its offense and will look to close the first half strong against RIT (home this weekend) and Wisconsin (road next weekend).
Robb Jeffries covered the games for the Herald this weekend as I was out of town covering the men at Notre Dame. But here are some notes and observations from afar:
1. Jocelyne Lamoureux has climbed into the top 10 all-time in Division I scoring. She’s currently tied with former Bulldog Caroline Ouellette in ninth with 229 career points. Monique Lamoureux is tied for 13th with 219 career points, which is ridiculous considering how much time she’s spent at defense.
2. Speaking of Monique at defense, the move by the coaching staff to send her to the blue line has paid off big for both the team and for Monique. UND is 5-0 since moving her back. In Monique’s nine games at forward, she had one goal. In the last four at defense, she has eight goals. Go figure. No defenseman in the country has more than eight goals this entire season. Monique did that in four games (don’t worry, she’ll still be voted second-team all-conference).
3. The return of Michelle Karvinen has been extremely big. Without Karvinen, the team averaged 2.2 goals per game. With Karvinen, they are averaging 4.75. Karvinen has 10 points in four games.
4. Another return that can’t be underestimated is Leah Jensen. She came back last weekend and had an assist. She won’t produce as much as Karvinen, but considering she started the year on a wing with the Lamoureux twins, the coaches know she’s capable of adding offense.
5. The five goals that UND scored on Saturday and the nine goals it scored on the weekend were both the highest marks anyone has scored against the Bulldogs this season. And that includes a series Duluth played against 16-0 Minnesota.
6. The bad: UND completely fell asleep at the wheel in Friday’s game, allowing Duluth to score two goals in the final 13.4 seconds of the game to tie it up. Both goals were results of major defensive breakdowns. The good: Although Duluth entered OT with all the momentum and a two-minute power play, UND successfully killed it, then went down and won the game. You’ve got to be mentally strong to come back from a disastrous ending like that and win a game. I think a couple of past teams would have folded in that situation.
7. Minnesota looks head and shoulders above the rest of the country, but there are some encouraging signs when you look back on that series for UND. Minnesota has shut out every team its faced this year except UND. The 4-2 game is the closest game Minnesota has played this year. And UND gave the Gophers that push without Karvinen or Jensen.
8. If there’s a negative out there right now, it’s that UND needs some players not named Lamoureux or Karvinen to chip in from time to time. During the current five-game winning streak, the Lamoureuxs/Karvinen have either scored or set up 20 of the team’s 22 goals — and one of the other two was an empty-netter. Jensen’s return should help the depth and the team’s growing confidence could be contagious, too.