Friday win followed by Saturday pasting

by Zach Eisendrath

On Halloween weekend, the phrase “trick or treat” accurately described Minnesota women’s hockey team’s performance Friday and Saturday nights at Ridder Arena.

Friday night the Gophers were stunning in all facets of the game – offense, defense, and special teams – en route to a 4-1 victory over WCHA rival Minnesota-Duluth.

The next night, fourth-ranked Minnesota (6-2-0 overall, 3-1-0 WCHA) looked nothing like the previous night’s team. The second-ranked Bulldogs (6-2-0, 6-2-0) made easy work of the back-to-back national champions, shutting out the Gophers 6-0 to salvage a split of the two-game series.

Minnesota-Duluth pounced on the Gophers from the outset on Saturday, scoring three first-period goals.

“I was disappointed in the way we started,” Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson said. “It seemed like we didn’t show up and it just snowballed.”

Duluth’s United States College Hockey Online All-Rookie Team selection Michaela Lanzl was critical in dismantling the Gophers.

Lanzl missed Friday’s contest because of Illness. After the game, Duluth coach Shannon Miller said she thought the outcome might have been different with their leading goal scorer.

“Obviously when you’re missing one of your top two players, it does have an impact on a team this young,” Miller said after Friday’s loss.

She might have had a point.

Lanzl scored two goals Saturday, including the game’s first goal at 2:30 into the first period. From there, Minnesota struggled to rebound.

“That set the tone for them,” Halldorson said. “It kind of knocked the wind out of us. We’re a young team, we played young (Saturday).”

The same loyal fans who might have felt “tricked” after Saturday’s game were “treated” to an impressive Minnesota showing on Friday.

Last year’s WCHA Rookie of the Year, forward Bobbi Ross, demonstrated the award was no fluke in the series opener. Ross scored three goals Friday, leading to her first career hat trick.

Thanks to Ross, Minnesota led from the game’s early moments. She scored the game’s first two goals early in the first period.

“When you play an opponent of your equal, you have to be there every moment of the game,” Miller said. “And you could give up one minute; it could cost you the game. You can’t give up 20. The Gophers outplayed us badly in the first period. I think it cost us the game.”

When the momentum began to shift in favor of the Bulldogs after a Duluth goal, Ross was there once again to lift Minnesota. A little over a minute after Duluth’s lone goal, she responded with one of her own, giving the Gophers a 3-1 lead.

“Just because the pucks go in, doesn’t mean it’s the best game of the season,” Ross said. “All credit has to go to the people passing me the puck.”

Brittony Chartier was rock-solid for the Gophers again. She saved 31 of Duluth’s 32 attempts, many coming in highlight-reel fashion.

But roles seemed to be reversed the following night for the in-state rivals.

Although both teams got one win the Gophers said they were not satisfied after the weekend series.

“That was a great feeling (Friday). But now seriously, without the win (Saturday) all it does is keep us at the same spot,” Ross said. “Whereas this weekend was supposed to be a place where we move forward.”