Minnesota ignites for 10-goal weekend

Nick Heronimus

The Minnesota women’s hockey team cruised to a series sweep over North Dakota and in the process moved into sole possession of second place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

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bemidji state
what: Women’s Hockey
when: 6 p.m., Friday
where: Ridder Arena

The Gophers (9-4-1, 7-4-1 WCHA) defeated the Sioux 5-1 on Saturday and 5-3 on Sunday. Minnesota utilized its superior speed to out-man North Dakota (2-10-4, 2-6-2 WCHA) who struggled to keep up with the Gophers all weekend.

Saturday’s game turned from uneventful into a rollercoaster ride in the second period.

Following a highlight reel goal provided by Gophers freshman forward Jen Schoullis in which she deeked out the Sioux’s sophomore goaltender Brittany Kirkham, the smooth flying Gophers hit some turbulence.

Minnesota got itself in penalty trouble and gave the Sioux two consecutive five-on-three chances.

The advantages seemed to help the Sioux step out of the cement buckets they had been wearing all game long, as they capitalized on the first chance when junior defense Kelsey Fletcher drove the puck home for the Sioux goal.

Round two of the five-on-three North Dakota advantage was very different however.

Senior forward Bobbi Ross ended hopes of the Sioux scoring another goal as she stole a pass and took it down to the North Dakota end for a two on one chance.

Ross wouldn’t need the help of her teammate though as she fired the puck past Kirkham for her second goal of the game.

During the game the Gophers used a team effort to fill up the stat sheet as nine different players tallied a point in route to Saturday’s win.

Sunday’s affair was not as easy but saw the same result.

“It wasn’t the prettiest thing but we got four points and we’ll take those any week,” head coach Brad Frost said.

Early on it appeared as if it would be an easy victory for Minnesota as they raced out to an early two goal lead in the first period.

But the Sioux did not quit as they answered back with a goal of their own in the first.

Continuing their surge, North Dakota scored to tie the game at two as Holland scored her fifth goal of the season.

But, just when it seemed like an upset was brewing, Minnesota’s senior forward Erica McKenzie scored under a minute later to put the Gophers ahead by one.

The close score through the first two periods was misleading though as the Gophers outshot the Sioux 36 to 6. Minnesota strung together multiple scoring chances but could not convert them or had them stopped by Kirkham.

That would change in the third period however as all of the shots on goal by the Gophers started to find their way into the net.

Junior defense Rachael Drazan added to Minnesota’s lead when her shot from the top of the North Dakota zone deflected off a defender and bounced through the Sioux’s defense.

“A good shot is any shot that you take that hits the net and apparently that was it,” Drazan said.

West capped off the Gophers scoring when she scored her second goal of the game and ended any thoughts of victory by North Dakota.

Minnesota, already without the services of senior Anya Miller and sophomore Alexandra Zebro, lost Ross to an injury as well.

“We had to approach them (North Dakota) as we do Wisconsin or Duluth,” West said. “We had to skate just as hard and the win is just as important.”