Gophers sweep Brown in nonconference series

A hat trick by Natalie Darwitz led Minnesota’s women’s hockey team in Sunday’s win.

by Noah Seligman

When Minnesota’s top-ranked women’s hockey team landed in Providence, R.I. for a two-game set against Brown University, the team hit the ground running.

The Gophers put up four goals in the first period of each game and rode the early surge of momentum to earn a series sweep. Minnesota won 8-1 Sunday and 5-2 Saturday afternoon.

“In both games to be able to start very well made an important statement,” Gophers coach Laura Halldorson said. “It put Brown back on its heels.”

On Sunday, sophomore forward Natalie Darwitz scored 47 seconds into the contest on the first shot of the game.

The Gophers (8-0) added two more goals by the 6:12 mark of the opening period, forcing Brown (1-3) to call an early timeout.

Darwitz added two more goals to notch her second hat-trick of the season.

Minnesota shared the wealth over the weekend. On Sunday, 10 players tallied points; seven players scored points Saturday.

Freshman forward Andrea Nichols netted her first collegiate goal in Saturday’s contest, and sophomore Allie Sanchez scored her first point of the season with an assist in Sunday’s game.

The Gophers out-shot Brown 65-33 on the weekend, and converted on four of 13 power-play opportunities.

“Overall, we had a pretty good weekend,” Darwtiz said. “Our three lines played with good consistency.”

Three’s company

Halldorson announced Friday that Erica McKenzie, Anya Miller and Jenelle Philipczyk have signed National Letters of Intent and will play for the Gophers next season.

Miller, a defenseman from Elk River, Minn., was a second-team all-metro selection her junior year. She earned 2002-2003 Pioneer Press all-state honors and Associated Press all-state second-team honors.

Philipczyk, a forward from Woodbury, Minn., earned 2003 third-team all-metro and all-state honors. She led the Lake Conference in scoring her sophomore and junior year. Philipczyk is also a member of the Minnesota Selects team.

McKenzie, a native of Hastings, Minn., was named the 2003 Star Tribune metro player of the year. She led the metro area in goals scored her junior year and has earned first-team all-metro honors three straight season.

All three recruits have participated in USA Hockey’s Development Camp.