Women’s hockey: New York hands Minnesota first loss in overtime

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Team Minnesota entered Sunday’s game against New York at Xcel Energy Center as the only undefeated team in the Professional Women’s Hockey League season, and when they entered the second period leading 2-0, it didn’t look like that would change.

But what appeared to be a tight grip on the game slowly slipped away before, suddenly, it was out of reach, as New York skated away with a 3-2 overtime win in front of an announced crowd of 7,951.

“Yeah, let it slip,” said Minnesota captain Kendall Coyne Schofield. “They’re a good hockey team; opportunistic. We played well, but definitely not our best.”

After seeing the game go to overtime, Minnesota had a great chance to end it in spectacular fashion. Winger Grace Zumwinkle, tied for the league lead in goals with four, was awarded a penalty shot after she was dragged down in the crease after an electric end-to-end rush.

Zumwinkle moved in on New York goaltender Corrin Schroeder on left wing before letting go a wrist shot to the short side that was turned away by Schroeder.

“She was flying,” Minnesota coach Ken Klee said of Zumwinkle’s end-to-end rush. “It was awesome. How exciting to have a penalty shot in overtime with a chance to win the game. From the bench, it looked like the goalie stopped it with the knob of her stick.

“That’s why goalies have a stick. She made a good stop.”

Emma Woods scored the game winner for New York 41 seconds later, beating Minnesota goaltender Maddie Rooney with a wrist shot high to the stick side.

“Obviously it’s a good feeling in front of this Xcel crowd,” Woods said. “Quiet the building. I think we did a good job of that in the second and the third and in overtime.”

Woods said Team New York was well aware coming into the game that Minnesota was the only team in the league still undefeated.

“They’re (also) the only team that didn’t lose their first game in their building,” she said, “so obviously they were building off that momentum. They’re a very skilled and fast team, and we matched that tonight.

“So yeah, it felt good to take them out of the win column for a bit.”

Coyne Schofield gave credit to New York for playing a strong game.

“Any team that goes down 2-0, you can sulk, you can feel bad for yourself, like ‘Oh, this is going to get out of hand,’” she said. “They never once played that way.”

After failing to score on an early 5-on-3 power play that lasted for one minute, 52 seconds, Minnesota took a 1-0 lead at 7:16 of the first period on defenseman Lee Stecklein’s first goal of the season. Stecklein beat Schroeder on a wrist shot from the left point that found the net through traffic.

Kelly Pannek scored her second goal of the season at 11:22 to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead. Pannek gained control of a bouncing puck at the New York blue line, got behind the defense and beat Schroeder on a wrist shot.

New York tied the game on a pair of power-play goals. The first came at 14:23 of the second period when Alex Carpenter scored her fourth goal of the season off a backdoor pass from the left point.

New York tied the game at 10:49 of the third period when Jessie Eldridge scored off a scramble in front.

From Klee’s perspective, his team could have pulled away well before overtime if it had done a better job of finishing its scoring chances.

“I liked a lot about our game,” he said. “Maybe shoot the puck a little more. Some little things to where we got tight as the game got on. All of sudden we got puck allergies, which is not a great thing.”

Klee said the way his team lost — blowing a 2-0 lead at home — does not add any extra sting to the team’s first loss.

“It’s a 24-game season; we have to pile up points,” he said. “We got another point tonight; they only got two. If we get points every night we’re going to be in a good spot.”

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