Bulldogs ailing after time off
Forgive Shannon Miller if she has less holiday cheer and more holiday jeer this weekend. The Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team finished the first half of the season Dec. 9 trouncing Ohio State 9-1 to split the Western Collegiate Hockey Associa...
Forgive Shannon Miller if she has less holiday cheer and more holiday jeer this weekend.
The Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team finished the first half of the season Dec. 9 trouncing Ohio State 9-1 to split the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at the DECC. There were bursts of optimism from the locker room and the promise of two weeks of rest for the team.
Miller had good thoughts for the Bulldogs (10-7-1, 10-5-1 WCHA), who finished their final 10 games with a rough 2-7-1 record.
"Honestly, over break I talked to fans and people who support us and said, 'Don't worry. We have two weeks off. When we're healthy, we're a very good team,'" Miller said.
But by the end of practice Wednesday afternoon, the Bulldogs' roster looked war-torn and battered, with limping room only on the team's injured reserve.
Heidi Pelttari, a Finnish defender slated to join the team Dec. 29, injured her knee while playing hockey in Europe. She is set for knee surgery this week, but may return by the end of the month.
Swedish freshman forward Elin Holmlov (four goals, 15 assists), who in the Ohio State series finale had finally reached maximum health after surgery for a herniated disk last February, re-aggrevated the injury. She is scheduled to return at the end of the month.
Swedish freshman goalie Kim Martin, who has a .950 save percentage, 1.39 goals against average and three shutouts, has a return date yet to be determined. She has been spotted in and out of the lineup since the Four Nations Cup in November.
Junior forward Samantha Hough is done for the season. She is expected to take a medical red shirt to retain two more seasons of eligibility.
Senior forward Juliane Jubinville, who has been plagued with side effects following a preseason concussion, is not expected to return.
Meanwhile, forward Michaela Lanzl (3-5--8) is playing in a tournament with the German national team and returns Jan. 10.
The good news -- a sort of triage system has some players who are almost fully recovered making an early return: senior defender Suvi Vacker, who has been out with a leg injury since the end of November, is expected to play Saturday. She may even see some time at forward, the Finnish player said.
Junior Karine Demeule, who has a back injury, will likely skate. And first-line winger Jessica Koizumi, who recently returned from a Team USA tryout camp, will likely play despite a groin injury.
"This obviously sets us back," Miller said. "It could be ugly. We just have to win this weekend and then figure out how to approach the next month."
Freshman forward Emmanuelle Blais is expected to play on the first line with Koizumi and senior Noemie Marin. The speedy Canadian has five goals, 11 assists and occasionally skated with the Bulldogs' top line.
"I feel confident with what we have in the locker room right now," Marin said. "Even though we are missing great players."
"As a team, everyone is so important," Blais said. "When we have injuries, we have to focus on the people who are there; step up as an individual to help the team as a whole."
Koizumi and Julianne Vasichek, a strength and conditioning coach who graduated in 2005, attended a Team USA tryout camp over break. They are expected to find out if they made the roster in about three weeks for the World Tournament, which is scheduled for the end of March in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
* Marin and assistant coach Caroline Ouellette will attend Canada's tryout camp for the same tournament. Marin will play just one game of the Jan. 13-14 series against St. Cloud State.