Kessel impresses with 7 goals in weekend sweep

The sophomore had seven goals as Minnesota outscored New Hampshire 17-1.

Gophers forward Amanda Kessel drives the puck toward the New Hampshire goal Friday at Ridder Arena.

Gophers forward Amanda Kessel drives the puck toward the New Hampshire goal Friday at Ridder Arena.

by Charlie Armitz

It was a fairly straightforward weekend for the No. 2 Gophers womenâÄôs hockey team âÄî but that didnâÄôt stop Amanda Kessel from putting on a show.

Kessel scored seven goals in MinnesotaâÄôs home weekend sweep of New Hampshire âÄî four Friday and three Saturday âÄî as the Gophers outscored the Wildcats 17-1 and improved to 12-2-0.

Kessel now leads the WCHA with 17 goals and ranks second with 34 points.

âÄúOverall it was a very good weekend for us,âÄù Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said. âÄúAny time we can play an Eastern team, regardless of who that is, and put up two convincing wins, I think that will benefit us down the road.âÄù

Kessel scored the gameâÄôs first goal three minutes into SaturdayâÄôs match. She added two more goals later in the game.

Senior Jen Schoullis made it 2-0 two minutes after KesselâÄôs first goal. Schoullis was involved in all six of MinnesotaâÄôs goals Saturday. She had a goal and five assists and finished the weekend with eight points âÄî the same number as Kessel.

âÄúWeâÄôre all playing so well together that weâÄôre all having fun and moving the puck around,âÄù Schoullis said. âÄú[Kessel] just happens to be the one burying the puck.âÄù

Schoullis eclipsed her previous personal record of four points set during her 2008-09 freshman season.

âÄúTonight, pucks just seemed to find my stick,âÄù she said, âÄúand a lot of people found the back of the net for me.âÄù

Minnesota outshot UNH 52-11 on Saturday. Kessel had five shots, as did defender Megan Bozek, who scored a goal and added an assist.

On Friday, Minnesota scored six second-period goals âÄî three by Kessel âÄî and went on to defeat the Wildcats 11-0.

âÄúIt was certainly a complete effort tonight from our goaltender out,âÄù Frost said Friday. âÄúYou get some of those games where the pucks start to go in the net, and they started to do that quite a bit in the second period. It was great to see production up and down the lineup âÄî each line scoring at least one goal.âÄù

Minnesota scored two and a half minutes into the period on a Bozek shot from the point, and Kessel had her first goal three minutes later.

Nine minutes passed with no scoring âÄî then the Gophers began a stretch in which they scored four goals inthree and a half minutes. They took an 8-0 lead into the second intermission.

âÄúThis team has done a good job over the last few weeks of preparing for each period as a new game,âÄù Frost. âÄúIt was great to get two goals late in the first. We came out [in the second period] and got a quick power-play goal, and it just kind of snowballed from there.âÄù

Kessel scored a career-high four goals on the night on five shots. Her linemates, Schoullis and Sarah Erickson, each added two assists.

âÄúEveryone was working really hard tonight,âÄù Kessel said Friday. âÄúWe just wore them down. … It was a great team effort tonight, and that made it easy for me to get those goals.âÄù

On her third goal, Kessel took a pass from Minnesota goaltender Noora Räty in the Minnesota zone and blew by one UNH player after another before putting the puck past Wildcats goaltender Jenn Gilligan.

Räty recorded her first assist of the season on the play and her seventh assist in three seasons with the Gophers.

Four other Gophers scored their first points of the season Friday: Baylee Gillanders (goal), Sam Downey (goal, assist), Bethany Brausen (goal) and Becky Kortum (assist).

MinnesotaâÄôs third and fourth lines saw extended playing time in the third period, which the team dominated almost as much as the second period.

The Gophers outshot the Wildcats 49-20, and 33-11 after the first period.

They also had four power play goals in six tries, while limiting UNH to one power play.

âÄúThatâÄôs our game plan,âÄù Frost said of the teamâÄôs disciplined play. âÄúComing into the year, that was going to be a focus of ours, and weâÄôve had our moments where weâÄôve taken a few too many [penalties]. But thereâÄôs no need for us to take penalties if we have the puck, and we had the puck most of the night.âÄù

Minnesota took five penalties Saturday, one of which resulted in a UNH goal.

The Gophers travel to Cambridge, Mass., next weekend for a series with No. 10 Harvard.