Gophers open with two wins

The victory against Boston University was coach Brad Frost's first career win.

Nick Heronimus

A decade of excellence continued for the Minnesota women’s hockey team this weekend at the Nike Bauer Women’s Classic.

The Gophers (2-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) defeated Northeastern 5-3 Friday night to win their first game of the season. Minnesota earned its second victory with a 4-2 win over Boston University (0-1-1, 0-0-0 HEA) on Saturday night.

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st. cloud state
what: Women’s Hockey
when: 6 p.m., Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday
where: Ridder Arena and St. Cloud.

Friday night’s victory was also the first victory in head coach Brad Frost’s career.

“It was a good learning experience for us,” Frost said. “It’s good to get that first one out of the way for sure.”

Minnesota had stated earlier in the week that they were anxious to begin the season, and it showed as they nearly scored before the Zamboni had exited the rink.

Three minutes and 47 seconds into the first period junior Rachael Drazan put the Gophers ahead for good with a power-play goal. Drazan was assisted by junior Gigi Marvin on the play to score the one-timer.

The goal was especially sweet for Drazan because she transferred from Minnesota Duluth and had to sit out last year.

“It (the goal) gave me a little confidence that I can still play,” Drazan said. “It was nice; definitely a good start to the season.”

The Gophers continued their early period scoring with another goal this time by freshman Emily West minutes later. Minnesota aggressively attacked a Husky defender to steal the puck away, which gave West the opening as she scored her first career goal.

Northeastern (0-1-1, 0-0-0 HEA) got itself on the board with a power-play goal of their own with 13:58 left in the first period.

It was a chaotic scene around the net with sticks, skates and bodies flying, but it allowed for freshman Kristi Kehoe to flip in the first goal of the season for the Huskies.

As time was running out in the first period senior Erica McKenzie scored the third goal of the game for the Gophers. This would be the start of a trend for McKenzie, as she would go on to score two more goals to register a hat trick.

“We came out flying today,” McKenzie said. “We just wanted to make sure that we got a ‘W’ and set a pace for the rest of the season.”

The fourth Minnesota goal came on another power play. Minnesota used good spacing to capitalize against a scrambled Husky defense to open up a lane for Drazan to center the puck to McKenzie for her second goal.

The final goal for the Gophers, which came in the third period, was also McKenzie’s third to complete her hat trick.

Northeastern scored their second and third goals in the third period, but never truly challenged the Gophers throughout the game.

A tougher challenge awaited Minnesota Saturday against a scrappy Boston University squad. But Frost was still pleased with what he saw.

“To go into the (third) period down a goal and face a little adversity and to be able to come out and get one (goal) quick was a great thing for our team,” Frost said.

The Gophers entered the third period trailing 2-1 to the Terriers but that would change quickly.

Just 48 seconds into the third period, Minnesota tied things up when senior Anya Miller scored on a snapshot. The goal came on a power play in which the Gophers came out with a flurry of shots against sophomore goaltender Melissa Haber.

The scoring trend for Minnesota would continue when McKenzie took the puck and sliced through the heart of the Boston defense to put in the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal. Two of the Terriers’ defenders got tangled up, which gave McKenzie the opening that turned out to be the deciding factor in the game.

The final goal of the game for the Gophers came from freshman Jen Schoullis as she put in a rebound off of a missed slap shot by junior Melanie Gagnon.

Boston was led by Haber who played spectacularly in the net and prevented the powerful Gopher offense from taking control of the game.

“She played really well and denied some great opportunities for us,” Frost said.

Freshman goalie Jenny Lura earned her first victory for the Gophers and had 20 saves in her debut.