Gophers win Windjammer Classic over Vermont

Minnesota defeated Vermont 6-2 on Saturday after beating St. Lawrence 8-2 in the tournament semifinal.

Redshirt senior Kelly Pannek fights for the puck on Sunday, Nov. 18 at Ridder Arena.

Jerusa Nyakundi

Redshirt senior Kelly Pannek fights for the puck on Sunday, Nov. 18 at Ridder Arena.

by Erik Nelson

The Gophers were thankful for at least one thing this weekend: they won an annual holiday tournament.

There won’t be a banner-raising ceremony, but No. 2 Minnesota (13-2-1, 9-2-1) won the Windjammer Classic, defeating Vermont (3-8-4, 2-6-2) 6-2 on Saturday in Burlington, Vermont. 

Head coach Brad Frost said Minnesota played well on both sides of the puck.

“We defended well and got contributions from all of our players,” Frost said. “It was a lot of fun.”

The Gophers have scored at least six goals in three consecutive games. Center Kelly Pannek  said Minnesota had contributors from up and down the lineup.

“Something our team is always looking to do is get everyone involved,” Pannek said. “When you can put points on the board, it’s hard to lose.”

Right winger Catie Skaja opened the scoring for the Gophers at 1:13 of the first period. It was Skaja’s fourth goal of the season. After Vermont tied the game midway through the first period, center Taylor Heise restored Minnesota’s lead for good at 18:58 of the first period. It was Heise’s fifth goal of the season. Four different freshmen scored for the Gophers: Skaja, Heise, right winger Amy Potomak and left winger Emily Oden.

Potomak said Gutterson Fieldhouse, Vermont’s home arena, reminded her of small-town rinks in her native Canada.

“It was an older rink,” Potomak said. “The town itself was pretty. Coming from a smaller town, it felt like home.”

Goaltender Alex Gulstene made 19 saves and won her 10th game of the season. The Gophers are undefeated when Gulstene is in net. Pannek received tournament MVP honors after scoring four goals and adding two assists during the weekend.

Minnesota advances to Windjammer Classic final

On Black Friday, the Gophers came out on top. Minnesota defeated No. 8 St. Lawrence (8-6-1, 3-0-0) 8-2 on Friday in Burlington, Vermont to advance to the Windjammer Classic final.

Pannek led the way offensively, scoring a hat trick and earning an assist. Gulstene made 16 saves, earning her ninth win of the season. 

Frost said it was a matter of time for Pannek to be a key offensive contributor.

“She’s shooting the puck more,” Frost said. “She’s got great patience [and] can see it well. She was a little snake [bitten] earlier on in the year, but you can see her start to produce. That’s real positive for our team.”

Minnesota’s next series will be against Yale (2-8-0, 2-6-0) in New Haven, Connecticut Friday-Saturday. Friday’s game begins at 5 p.m. and Saturday’s game begins at 2 p.m.

Frost said he wants his team to continue to grow next weekend.

“Over the last couple of weekends, we’ve taken another step,” he said. “We’ve got two weekends left before Christmas break.”