Minnesota stays perfect by sweeping St. Cloud State

The Gophers have won 10 straight against the Huskies.

Matthew Kennedy

Strong defensive play has been a key cog in the Gophers staying near the top of the NCAA rankings and it certainly helped in this weekend’s series against the St. Cloud State Huskies at home in Ridder Arena. The No. 2 ranked Gophers won 3-0 on Saturday and 4-2 on Sunday, to stay undefeated this season. 

Saturday was a textbook win for the Gophers as senior goalie Sydney Scobee collected 21 saves in a shutout victory. 

“I think everyone on our team played a good 60 minutes and I thought we all battled to the end,” Scobee said. “We had a really good defensive effort and kept all of our shots to the wide, so if they make my job easier than it looks that’s really nice.”

The Gophers pounced on the Huskies early as senior forward Alex Woken scored under a minute into the game. Not long after, junior forward Grace Zumwinkle added to the lead, giving the Gophers a nice cushion. The women led 2-0 after the 1st period, out hustling the Huskies, and aggressively attacking their zone. The goals continued in the 2nd, as junior defenseman, Olivia Knowles, fired a shot past junior St. Cloud State goaltender Emma Polusny. 

The score remained at 3-0 for the rest of the contest, but the Gophers never let off the gas pedal, outshooting the Huskies 28-21. 

“We generated early on a lot of pressure with our speed, getting a ton of rebound opportunities and filtering pucks to the net started to create a few opportunities,” head coach Brad Frost said. 

Saturday’s outcome was the second time this season the Gophers did not allow a goal.

The second game proved to be more competitive, with St. Cloud State starting a new goalie in senior Janine Alder. That change wasn’t too big of a challenge to adjust to for the Gophers, and junior defenseman Emily Brown in particular. She scored twice in the game, contributing at 7:24 in the 1st period to let the Gophers jump ahead 1-0, and halfway through the 3rd period, shooting a pivotal one-timer to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead. Those two goals followed a good amount of time in a 1-1 stalemate between the two in-state foes. The score for the Huskies was made possible by a goal from redshirt senior forward Dana Rasmussen early in the third period. 

That 2-1 lead never wavered for the Gophers. Sophomore forward, Catie Skaja tacked on another score less than two minutes after Brown’s goal. The score was 3-1 until the final two minutes when sophomore forward, Taylor Heise, slid in the puck for an empty-net goal. Soon after, senior defenseman Abby Theissen converted on a power play with just ten seconds remaining in the game, but that effort was too little too late for the Huskies. The final score after an eventful last twenty minutes was 4-2, with the shots on goal coming in the Gophers favor once again, 40-15.

From winning both games this weekend, the Gophers have risen up to first place in the WCHA rankings with a 4-0 record. The Gophers defensemen provided plenty of offensive firepower this weekend to help secure both wins.

“Having an offensive threat that can go with our forwards’ output makes it tough for other teams to play us,” Brown said. “Just knowing that all five players on the ice can light the lamp and sometimes knowing Scobee back in the net can contribute on her end, it makes us dangerous going forward.”

Up next, the Gophers will travel to Columbus to play a weekend series matchup versus the No. 9 Buckeyes.