Gophers split first road series against Minnesota-Duluth

Minnesota won on Friday 5-2 but lost 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday.

Sophomore goaltender Alex Gulstene makes a save. Gopher women's hockey beat Mercyhurst 4-2 in their season opener on Friday, Sept. 28 at Ridder Arena.

Tony Saunders

Sophomore goaltender Alex Gulstene makes a save. Gopher women’s hockey beat Mercyhurst 4-2 in their season opener on Friday, Sept. 28 at Ridder Arena.

Erik Nelson

Fans at Amsoil Arena in Duluth were treated to extra hockey on Saturday. 

No 3. Minnesota (3-0-1, 1-0-1) took No 4. Minnesota-Duluth (2-1-1, 0-1-1) to overtime. The Bulldogs prevailed 3-2 in a shootout.

Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Maddie Rooney made 37 saves and stopped Minnesota center Kelly Pannek on the last shot of the shootout.

Rooney said it was weird to face Pannek in the shootout. Pannek and Rooney were teammates for the U.S. Olympic team at this year’s Winter Olympics that won gold.

“As a goaltender, you’ve got to expect the unexpected, so you can’t read much into that,” Rooney said. “[The shooter] could do something different every time. We gave each other a little jab at the end.”

The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the second period when center Gabbie Hughes beat Gophers’ goaltender Sydney Scobee at 4:32 of the period. It was Hughes’ second goal of the season. 

After entering the third period down 2-0, Minnesota responded in the third. Left winger Nicole Schammel scored her first goal of the season at 6:09 of the period. Defender Crystalyn Hengler recorded the lone assist, her first for Minnesota. 

Minnesota scored on the power play at 8:29 of the period when a shot by Pannek deflected off of a Minnesota-Duluth defender and into the back of the net. 

Head coach Brad Frost said Minnesota responded well to force overtime and eventually a shootout.

“A great job by our team at sticking together and finding a way to tie that thing up,” Frost said. “To get four points on the road is a great thing.”

Minnesota-Duluth won the shootout 2-0. Ryleigh Houston scored the shootout winner, beating Scobee with a low shot. Rooney stopped both attempts by Pannek and right winger Amy Potomak.

Pannek said Minnesota learned something about itself after coming from behind against the No. 4 team in the nation.

“It’s huge,” Pannek said. “To come back and find a way to compete, stick to our game plan, not get too frustrated and [manage the game] is huge.”

Minnesota’s second line dominates in Gophers’ first road victory

Even star goaltenders have bad games. 

Rooney allowed four goals in the first period of Friday’s game, as Minnesota defeated Minnesota-Duluth 5-2. 

Minnesota’s second line of Schammel, Taylor Wente and Grace Zumwinkle combined for seven points in the Gophers’ first road victory of the season. 

Frost said the Gophers had to be persistent on the attack.

“We wanted to push their defensemen as much as we could, but also get things [at Rooney’s feet], take away her eyes and get some second and third chances,” Frost said. “The majority of the goals were third opportunities, sometimes fourth [ones]. That’s what you have to do to score on her.”

After Minnesota-Duluth scored the first goal of the game less than two minutes into the first period, Minnesota quickly responded. Zumwinkle tied the game at 3:54 of the period after a shot by Schammel deflected off of her pants and into the net past Rooney. 

The Gophers took the lead at 5:12 of the first period when center Catie Skaja beat Rooney for her first collegiate goal.  From Skaja’s goal onward, Minnesota didn’t look back. 

Wente scored twice in the first period. One of the goals, which came at 7:19 of the period, was Minnesota’s first power-play goal of the season. 

Schammel said its important for teams to have depth offensively.

“We have so much depth that were able to pressure teams and roll four lines,” Schammel said. “All of our lines were working on being simple and getting pucks to the net.”

Goaltender Alex Gulstene won her second game of the season. After allowing the first goal on the first shot she faced, she stopped 21Minnesota-Duluth shots.

Minnesota’s next series will be a home-and-home series against St. Cloud State (2-2-0) Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game in St. Cloud starts at 6:07 p.m. Saturday’s game at Ridder Arena starts at 4:07 p.m.

Frost said it will be different facing the same team at two different venues.

“The rink sizes are different, but that’s the only difference,” he said. “We expect a great battle Friday-Saturday.”