After a very long layoff, the Minnesota Whitecaps hosted the talented Shattuck-St. Mary’s Sabres at Ridder Arena today, falling 3-2, as Shattuck scored a late goal in the third period.
An early body checking penalty on Whitecaps’ Kelly Seeler put Shattuck on their first power play of the game. They controlled the play in the Whitecaps’ zone for the first minute of the power play. The tide turned, however, when Allie Thunstrom battled a Sabre in the neutral zone and broke free with the pack, skating up the left side of the ice and poking the puck past Shattuck’s netminder Aerin Frankel. Thunstrom’s unassisted, shorthanded goal put the Whitecaps up 1-0 just 5:59 into the first period.
Six minutes and 40 seconds later, the tide turned once again. Shattuck’s Taylor Peracchio drove the puck into the Whitecaps’ zone and scooted it up to Brette Pettet who waited patiently at the right point. Pettet took her shot, and Alexis Mauermann redirected the puck behind Whitecaps goaltender Megan Sweerin to tie the game 1-1.
The Whitecaps harnessed the momentum from the early lead and controlled the play for the next several minutes.
Shattuck took to the ice for the second period with newfound speed and intensity. Just 1:20 into play, Alex Woken, one of four Sabres who were recently named to the U.S. Women’s National U-18 Team, caught a pass from Mauermann and rifled the puck into the back of the net to give the Sabres their first lead of the afternoon.
Makayla Langei, another U-18 selection, made her way to the box on a slashing call just under seven minutes into the period, putting the Whitecaps on the power play. They took full advantage of their extra skater, driving to the net time after time. With just five seconds remaining on the power play, the Whitecaps tied the game once again. Winny Brown skated the puck through the neutral zone and nudged it up to the blue line for Meaghan Pezon. Positioning herself to the left side of Frankel, Sarah Erickson caught Pezon’s pass and capitalized on her opportunity.
With just 4:17 left in the game, Shattuck’s Maureen Murphy took a shot from the top of the circle that Altmann kicked away. Maddie Mills caught the rebound and sent the puck over Altmann’s right pad and into the back of the net for the game-winning goal.
The Whitecaps outshot the Sabres 24-21, and were 1-2 on the power play. Shattuck was 0-3 on the power play. Whitecaps goaltenders split the game, as Sweerin made 5 saves on 7 shots, and Altmann had 13 saves on 14 shots.
The same two teams will be back in action against each other tomorrow, as they head to Faribault, Minn. for a rematch. The Whitecaps will then host the NWHL’s Boston Pride the following weekend, playing Saturday, December 12th at 6 pm, and Sunday, December 13th at 1 pm. Tickets are only $5 and children 12-and-under get in free. They can be purchased through the Gopher Ticket Office by calling 612-624-8080 or going to www.z.umn.edu/mnwhitecaps.