Gophers lose No. 1 ranking in split

Minnesota lost its newly received No. 1 ranking after the weekend’s split at UMD.

by Sam Gordon

If the intense in-state rivalry wasnâÄôt enough of an incentive for the University of Minnesota-Duluth to knock off Minnesota, the GophersâÄô new No. 1 ranking was.

MinnesotaâÄôs first game as the top team in the nation didnâÄôt exactly go as it hoped.

The Gophers came out flat Friday and suffered the consequences in a 4-2 loss to the No. 8 Bulldogs.

âÄúI was very disappointed,âÄù head coach Brad Frost said. âÄúWe didnâÄôt play up to our capability or how we need to play when we face a top team and that was very disappointing.âÄù

Minnesota got on the board first when Kelly Terry scored less than two minutes into the first period. The rest of the stanza was all UMD.

Jenna McParland tied the game for the Bulldogs just 33 seconds later, and Haley Irwin put UMD ahead with a goal roughly halfway through the period.

Three minutes later, Bulldogs leading scorer Audrey Cournoyer scored to make it a 3-1 game. That score held until 12:54 into the second period when Sarah Davis scored for the Gophers to make it a game again.

But that score didnâÄôt hold up for long. Five minutes later, McParland scored her second goal of the game. Neither team scored in the third and UMD held on for the upset.

âÄúWe knew we had the target on our back being ranked No. 1,âÄù Gophers defenseman Anne Schleper said, âÄúbut our actions didnâÄôt portray that we knew that. That was frustrating.âÄù

Saturday, however, Minnesota looked like the team that had just seized the No. 1 ranking from Wisconsin.

Sarah Erickson put the Gophers ahead with a goal âÄî her first since Dec. 2 at UND âÄî 16:53 into the first frame.

Less than a minute into the second period, Amanda Kessel extended MinnesotaâÄôs lead with her team-leading 21st goal.

Erickson scored her second goal of the game on a power play with less than two minutes left in the period and the 3-0 score held the rest of the way.

Noora Räty saved 29 shots en route to the 21st shutout of her career, which ties her with Erica Killewald for the most in school history.

âÄú[Räty] has kind of stood the test of time here so to speak over the last couple years,âÄù Frost said. âÄúIf you want to win hockey games you have to be really good in the nets and I think we have the best [goalie] in the country in our crease.âÄù

Minnesota, which fell back to No. 2 in the rankings Monday, will return home next weekend for a series with No. 9 Bemidji State.