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D3 college hockey notebook: St. Scholastica women take perfect record into key series at Adrian

The St. Scholastica women’s hockey team is five-for-five to start the 2017-18 season, giving the program its best start since going 8-0-2 in the first 10 games of 2013-14.

That perfect mark will be put to the test this weekend when the Saints hit the road to face fourth-ranked Adrian at 6 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday in a Northern Collegiate Hockey Association series in Adrian, Mich. The Bulldogs hold an 11-game unbeaten streak over the Saints (10-0-1) having last lost to CSS during the 2013-14 season.

Adrian, at 5-1 this year, is the defending league champion and last year’s NCAA Division III runner-up. Saints coach Jackie MacMillan said her team is ready to challenge the Bulldogs at the top this year.

“This is a defining moment for where we’re at as a team and what we’re capable of this season,” said MacMillan, whose Saints remain unranked with just a single vote in this week’s United States College Hockey poll. “We feel we’re very capable. I don’t know if other people see that yet, but we know we are. It’s going to be a measuring stick for us to see where we are at and where we need to be.”

MacMillan’s strong belief in her team this season comes from its veteran leadership, which has stepped up offensively with 18 goals in the first five games.

Emily StegoraSenior forward Emily Stegora, who transferred in from Minnesota State-Mankato a year ago, leads the team in scoring with five goals and four assists. Another former WCHA player, junior forward Alexia Klaas of Duluth, has four goals and three assists.

Defensively, the Saints have been even stronger, giving up four goals in the first two games, followed by three straight shutouts.

Lori HusebyTwo of those shutouts belong to freshman goaltender Lori Huseby of Babbitt. The former Ely High School boys hockey netminder is perfect in her two starts this season while incumbent starter Lexi Thomeczek has a .947 save percentage and 1.33 goals-against average in three starts.

MacMillan said the competition in goal is not only benefiting the team defensively, it’s pushing the offense as well.

“They are both pushing each other to a higher level. With that, we’re able to practice with a higher level of intensity, because it's tough for us to score goals in practice with those two,” MacMillan said. “It’s pushing our level of offensive play and output to a much higher level than what you can with one good goaltender.”

Saints men shorthanded after scuffle at MSOE

The St. Scholastica men are off this week before traveling over the bridge to play Wisconsin-Superior in the one-and-only regular-season meeting between the schools Nov. 25.

Four Saints will be suspended for that game after receiving game disqualifications last Saturday in a 4-1 loss at Milwaukee School of Engineering. Sophomore defenseman David Ross, senior forward Kale Derkson, junior forward Kristofer McKinzie and sophomore forward Dustin Cordeiro won’t be eligible to return until Dec. 1 at Adrian.

CSS and MSOE combined for 197 penalty minutes with 139 coming during a scuffle at the 16:29 mark of the third. Eight players, who combined for nine majors, were ejected with Derkson being tossed for facemasking. Ross, McKinzie and Cordeiro were tossed for fighting.

Four from MSOE — the most penalized team in Division III — also were ejected and suspended with freshman forward David Marabella getting a double major and double game disqualification, meaning he’ll miss the Raiders’ next two games.

“A guy got hit in the corner, he goes down, their team comes rushing in and the our team rushes in,” said Saints coach Mark Wick, who added the game became more heated after a Saints player was injured on a hit with no penalty called. “It’s wasn’t as bad as the boxscore looks. It’s still something that we don’t want to have. It’s something we addressed our team about.”

The Saints started the season with three wins, scoring a combined 12 goals. They’ve since lost three straight and scored just two goals.

Wick said the Saints have had plenty of scoring opportunities the last three games — they’re averaging 30.67 shots on goal per game — but the lack of goals has been a point of frustration for some.

“They are getting the chances and I know it’s going to happen,” Wick said. “Once they get one they’ll get six, but they have to get that one first.”

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

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