Gophers dominate SCSU in sweep

The Gophers outscored St. Cloud State 35-1 in five games this season.

Grant Donald

When senior goaltender Shyler Sletta decided to continue her hockey career at the University of Minnesota, head coach Brad Frost didn’t guarantee her any playing time.

That didn’t matter to Sletta, who made her second-career start in Friday’s 4-0 victory over St. Cloud State. Minnesota completed the sweep with a 7-1 victory over the Huskies on Saturday.

“Shyler is the constant team player,” Frost said. “She works her butt off in practice and competes every day, and she deserved to start.”

Sletta denied 18 St. Cloud State shots to reach her shutout. The goalie from New Prague, Minn., has yet to allow a goal in her 10 appearances in a Minnesota uniform.

“The goal every time you go out there is to stop every puck,” Sletta said. “To be honest, [on Friday], I wasn’t really thinking, I was reacting. It was nice to get some sort of payoff after four years.”

Sletta didn’t have to wait long for her teammates to help her out offensively, as Minnesota scored three first-period goals to take control of the game early.

Late in the first period, junior Hannah Brandt assisted on linemate Maryanne Menefee’s second goal. The assist marked Brandt’s 200th career point, a rare feat in college hockey.

“When somebody gets their 100th point, it’s a big deal in our program. And for someone to get 200 points, like Hannah when she’s only a junior, speaks incredible volumes for her as a person and a player,” Frost said.

While Brandt made program history over the weekend, it was senior Meghan Lorence who scored arguably the two most important goals.

In both Friday and Saturday’s games, Lorence found the net early to give the Gophers the 1-0 lead they needed.

“It’s always huge to get the momentum on your side early in the game,” Lorence said. “My line with [Rachael] Bona and [Kelly] Pannek played really well this weekend, and we were able to get the team off on the right track.”

The Gophers have been on the right track all season when facing St. Cloud State. They have outscored the Huskies 35-1 in their five meetings this year.

For a while, it looked like Minnesota would post 15 consecutive periods this season without letting in a St. Cloud State goal. But with four minutes remaining in the second period on Saturday, the Huskies converted on the power play to end their scoring drought against the Gophers.

“I really think we played six solid periods of hockey this weekend,” Frost said. “We are entering a part of our schedule where we play four out of the five top teams in our league. It’ll be great preparation for us with the playoffs beginning in four weeks.”