Women’s Hockey: Gophers pick up win at home to move into first place

by Paul Cordes

Detailed blog below. For full story, click here. The Badgers certainly put on a surge to try and stave off a Minnesota win but it wasn’t meant to be as the Gophers held on to pick up a huge win in front of 2562 at Ridder Arena, 4-2. Minnesota is now in sole possession of first place in the WCHA but will need a win tomorrow to stay there. Full Story to come. —- And Wisconsin answers back almost immediately. Meghan Duggan caught the Gophers sleep as she broke away and was able to make a move on Grogan to record the Badgers’ second goal and cut the lead back down to two. —– Gagnon is the first from either team to take advantage of a power play as the Gophers score with the extra skater. She got the pass from Marvin from about 25 feet out and hit the one-timer to give Minnesota 3-goal lead. —– End of the second, Minnesota with a 3-1 lead. Wisconsin played a much better second period but still seemed to be on the defensive much more often than the Gophers. Minnesota certainly turned up the head on Wisconsin in the second half of the period, unloading a barrage of shots on Vetter, including a blitz during the last 58 seconds of the period. Minnesota though unable to find the net to end the half. Final period of play coming up. So far, Grogan has held her own very well in goal for Minnesota. Her defense has certainly made it difficult for the Badgers to get too many shots off, however. Should be a solid final period from Ridder. —- Wisconsin finally able to get on the score board with 5:46 remaining. Brooke Ammerman with the goal to cut Minnesota’s lead to 2. —– Jocelyne Lamoureux gives Minnesota a little more cushion at 8:31 as she nets her second goal of the game. The Gophers had been putting a lot of pressure on Vetter over the last 2 or 3 minutes and got a lot of good shots off, finally able to land one to make it 3-0. No assists on the score. —– Breakaway goal for Minnesota as Emily West netted the second goal of the game. The Lamoureux sisters each get an assist on the play. Vetter came out of the net to try and head off the two Minnesota skaters but fell to the ice leaving a wide open net for West to net goal No. 2 for the Gophers. —– Minnesota could take advantage of the extra skater so that leaves both team 0-for on the power play today. Wisconsin certainly woke up a little towards the end of the first period. The Badgers were finally able to get set-up on offense and got a couple of good shots off, all deflected by Grogan who had a solid first period in the net. The Gophers, as I said, were fast, aggressive and dominant during the first 12 minutes of the first half. Shot selection wise, they seemed a little impatient at times and forced a couple of shots that were easily deflected by the Badgers’ D. Thats really all I could imagine Frost having to talk about in the locker room – simply being a little more selective with shots. Once again, after the first period, Gophers lead it 1-0. —– A holding penalty against Wisconsin cut the Badgers’ power play short by 19 seconds. Minnesota will now takes a crack at its second power play opportunity. —– The Badgers were able to fight off the power play and will now have an advantage themselves at 6:04 after a tripping call. —– Minnesota has come out with a vengeance. The Gophers have been on the attack nearly the entire first half. They certainly have not been afraid to take shots either. They’ve been firing at Vetter all day. They’ll get a whack at a power play here at 9:00. —– Gophers able to kill off the first power play of the game. Cleared the puck three times and nearly had a shot at a shorthanded goal, but the Badgers were able to fight it off. —– Great defensive play on behalf of the Badgers’ Rachel Bible. On a 3-on-2 breakaway, Minnesota came down, Brittany Francis took a quick shot which Vetter stopped but got pulled away from the Net. Minnesota’s Emily West was there for a rebound and what looked like an empty net and easy second goal but Bible flew in from out of no where to make the stop, denying the Gophers and keeping this one at 1-0. —– Certainly didn’t take long for Minnesota to get on the board. Freshman Jocelyne Lamoureux netted the Gophers’ first goal at 18:33. Assists from Brittany Francis and Rachael Drazan. —– Already have a change here. Coach Brad Frost will go with freshman Alyssa Grogan over Jenny Lura for today’s Game. She sports a 10-1-1 records and post a 1.17 GGA and .942 SV %. Puck drop is a minute away. —–

 About 25 minutes or so away from faceoff at a highly anticipated WCHA matchup at Ridder Arena.

No. 2 Minnesota (23-3-2 overall, 18-2-2 WCHA) is hosting a powerful No. 1 Wisconsin (24-1-3, 18-1-3) team for a two-game series with conference title implications. 

With a pair of wins, the Gophers would move into first place in the WCHA and essentially put their conference championship fate in their own hands. With two series left after this weekend against North Dakota and St. Cloud State, both teams Minnesota has swept this season in prior meetings by a collaborative score of 17-5, the Gophers could cruise to a regular season title.

Two losses would force the Gophers to win out and hope Minnesota State or Bemidji State could trip up the Badgers before the end of the regular season.

This game today could be a high scoring affair indeed as these teams are both known for their offensive prowess. Minnesota is coming off a 16-goal weekend – Wisconsin a 14-goal series.  

The Gophers will start sophomore keeper Jenny Lura tonight who brings into the game a 12-1-1 record with a 1.74 goals against average and a .913 save percentage.

On the other side of the ice, senior goaltender Jessie Vetter, who is 23-1-3 this season with a 1.15 goals against average and .944 save percentage, will sit between the pipes.

Should be a good game, I’ll keep you updated.