By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — When the season started, Minnesota State women’s hockey coach Eric Means said senior Lauren Smith needed to be a player who finished the myriad scoring chances she has gotten over her first three seasons.
Smith hasn’t just become a finisher, but she’s now one goal shy of the Mavericks’ single-season goal-scoring record with eight games still to play.
“She’s put them away this year,” Means said. “And she’s scoring them in a bunch of ways — tips, rebounds, power plays.”
Smith has 17 goals, along with nine assists, to lead the Mavericks in scoring, going into this weekend’s home series against No. 9 North Dakota.
The record of 18 is held by Michelle Sikich (1998-99) and Melanie Salatino (2003-04).
Means isn’t just hoping Smith ties and breaks the record, but he wants to see a few more of his players get in on the action over the final month of the season.
“We need consistent production throughout our lineup,” he said. “Anytime anyone scores besides Smith and (Tracy) McCann, we usually find a way to win.”
McCann is second on the team with 11 goals and eight assists. No one else has more than five goals.
“Secondary scoring,” Means said.
Smith also ranks third on MSU’s career scoring list with 84 points, 11 shy of second place.
The Mavericks (9-14-3, 5-12-3 in WCHA) split a series with North Dakota on Oct. 5-6 in Grand Forks. In the 3-2 win, Smith had two goals and McCann had one.
Minnesota State, which is in sixth place in the WCHA, is 14 points behind fifth-place UND in the standings with eight regular-season games remaining.
“We have to play our best,” Means said. “It should get us ready for the playoffs.”
Gustavus women’s player Lindsey Hjelm was named MIAC player of the week after scoring five points in the sweep of Concordia last weekend.
Hjelm had an assist in Friday’s 5-1 victory and a hat trick and assist in the next day’s 4-1 victory. The senior is the top-scoring defenseman in the MIAC with three goals and eight assists in conference play.
The second-ranked and undefeated Gusties (16-0-0) will host Hamline on Friday at the Don Roberts Ice Rink in St. Peter.
North Mankato native and former Minnesota State player Corey Leivermann scored his first points as a Gustavus player Friday at Concordia. The junior forward had a goal and an assist in the 7-4 victory.
Leivermann has been skating on a line with another Division I transfer, New Prague native and former Wisconsin player Tyler Lapic.
Gustavus will play Hamline on Friday and Saturday, with Saturday’s game taking place at home.
Minnesota State men’s team sophomore Charlie Thauwald broke his collarbone in practice last week. Thauwald had yet to play a game this season; he played in seven games as a freshman. ... Saturday’s crowd of 5,134 at Verizon Wireless Center pushed the Mavericks’ home average to 3,606 this season. ... The MSU men’s team has nine losses, all against teams currently ranked in the top 20.