From Minot Daily News
By Ryan Ladika
Ahead of the Minot State women’s hockey team’s season-opener Friday afternoon, head coach Ryan Miner preached the importance of simplicity and taking a measured approach against a familiar opponent.
The Beavers overcame a slow start in their first game of the 2021-22 campaign and rode a pair of second-period goals to a 2-1 victory Friday over the visiting Midland University Warriors at Minot’s Maysa Arena.
“Not trying to do too much, especially in the first period and the first 10 minutes of the game,” Miner said of what he was looking for from his team in the season-opener. “Just making those easy passes and moving the puck up ice, and making sure that we’re not panicking or hesitating.”
Minot State faced the Warriors for the eighth time since the beginning of the 2020-21 slate and the first time since besting Midland by a 3-2 final score in the ACHA National Tournament held on home ice, a winning effort that completed the seven-game season-sweep of the Warriors.
It was Midland that snatched up the contest’s early momentum, though, as the club earned the first power play opportunity, and later the first goal, of the game.
After the Beavers’ penalty kill successfully dispatched of Megan Norris’ infraction, Warriors freshman forward Allison Rakowski found herself with the puck on the left side of the crease and squeezed it by Minot State netminder Haylie Biever.
Throughout the opening minutes of the second period, the Beavers had settled in and found their footing in the offensive zone. Maiya Aschberg disrupted a Warriors pass attempt in Minot State’s defensive zone and created a two-on-none breakaway chance with fellow Beavers skater Riley Ball.
Aschberg gathered the puck alongside the far wall and executed a pass to Ball streaking down the slot. A quick one-time shovel shot by Ball hit the twine behind Warriors netminder Hannah Stone and tied the game at one goal apiece 2:50 into the middle frame.
“I think we really got back into finding out how to play in an actual game,” Miner said of the first-intermission adjustments. “First one of the year, there were some real good moments, there were some sloppy moments, but just getting back into that game atmosphere, with fans in the building was an exciting moment for us.”
Minot State took its first lead of the young season 45 seconds later, when freshman Mia Mckee raced out of the Beavers’ defensive zone to collect an errant Midland pass.
The Winnipeg, Manitoba native beat two Warriors skaters and created her own breakaway opportunity. She gained control in the low slot and quickly flicked the puck past Stone to score her first collegiate goal and put Minot State ahead 2-1.
“Honestly it all went by really fast,” Mckee said. “But I saw the puck and I was like ‘I’m going to chase it down,’ and I used everything, all my work ethic to chase it down and get it, and I shot it. It was great, I was so excited I didn’t even know how to react.”
The two squads battled through a defensive struggle in the final period and Biever produced a perfect frame to seal the one-goal victory, marking the Beavers’ 11th win in its last 12 contests against the Warriors dating back to the 2019-20 season.
Despite the low-scoring contest, the Beavers held offensive pressure on Midland throughout the contest, recording 32 shots on goal, as well as double-digit tries in two of the three periods. Biever also stopped 32 of the 33 shots that came her way in the winning effort.
“Biever stood on her head, she competed today and bailed our team out when we needed her,” Miner said. “And that’s what we ask of our goalies is to fight and compete and make the easy saves, but at times when she has to bail a teammate out, she’s there to make those saves. She stepped up today and I’m proud of her for what she did, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do the rest of the season.”
(Originally published at https://www.minotdailynews.com/sports/local-sports/2021/10/msu-womens-hockey-tops-midland-2-1-in-season-opener/)