.But happiness was in short supply Saturday night outside Minnesota’s locker room in the National Hockey Center at the conclusion of its weekend set with St. Cloud State.
The top-ranked Gophers (25-1-2, 20-0-2 WCHA), who swept the Huskies by scores of 5-1 Saturday and 4-1 Friday, said they experienced a major drop-off in play following the previous weekend’s sweep of the Badgers.
“We think that we played pretty sloppy and pretty lazy,” sophomore forward Maggie Souba said.
“Our mindset coming in wasn’t where it needed to be. Our heads weren’t really in it, and that’s just unacceptable for a team of our level.”
Saturday’s 5-1 victory saw Minnesota experience several defensive breakdowns that led to quality scoring chances for St. Cloud State (7-17-4, 5-14-3).
On a night such as this, the Gophers needed – and got – a strong effort from senior goaltender Brenda Reinen.
Reinen turned away 26 of 27 shots, doing most of her work in the first two stanzas when she stopped 22 shots combined.
“She made some huge saves for us,” coach Laura Halldorson said, “because this could’ve been a much different score.”
While Reinen’s name is fairly familiar as far as the team’s defense, a trio of lesser-known players stepped to the forefront on the other end of the rink.
Souba and freshman defender Anya Miller scored their first collegiate goals, and senior forward Stacy Troumbly netted her first tally of the season Saturday.
Souba had the eventual game-winner in the first period, and Miller scored late in the second to put Minnesota ahead 4-1. Troumbly dented the twine with less than one second remaining in the game to close out the scoring.
The Gophers also got goals from freshman forward Erica McKenzie and junior forward Natalie Darwitz in the win.
The offensive end of the ice was where most of the problems occurred Friday night.
Though Minnesota scored four times and fired 43 shots, the team appeared to be timid with the puck, passing off instead of taking shots.
It was here where the Gophers needed a strong night from the much more familiar trio of junior Krissy Wendell, senior Kelly Stephens and junior Darwitz.
The line accounted for seven points Friday, with Wendell and Stephens each contributing a goal and an assist.
Darwitz had three assists to become the school’s all-time single-season points leader with 81.
She entered the game needing just one point to break Wendell’s mark of 78 set last season.
“All those points I’ve got this year are basically a testament to my teammates,” Darwitz said.
“I’m just doing the little things and getting credit for it, and I’m very fortunate.”
Minnesota, as a team, knows it will have to do the little things better next weekend against North Dakota if it hopes to be as fortunate as it was this week.