Kessel scores hat trick in exhibition opener

by Nate Gotlieb

Although it wonâÄôt count as Amanda KesselâÄôs first career collegiate goal, her first score as a Gopher was certainly a memorable one. Early in the first period, Kessel grabbed the puck off of a face-off in the right corner of the Bison zone, darted around two defenders, and backhanded the puck into the net. If that wasnâÄôt enough for the freshman from Madison, Wis., Kessel added two goals in the third period to get her first career hat-trick, albeit an unofficial one. As it turned out, KesselâÄôs goal provided all the scoring the Gophers needed as they breezed by the University of Manitoba 8-0 in the exhibition opener Sunday afternoon at Ridder Arena. Senior Emily West added two goals for the Gophers, who take on Clarkson in their first regular season game Friday night. Manitoba came into the afternoon undefeated in six games and had just defeated St. Cloud State 2-1 in an overtime shootout Saturday night. The Bison lost any hopes of an undefeated Minnesota road trip early in the second period. West scored the first of four second-period goals by sneaking the puck past the left goal post with 14:56 left in the second. A Jen Schoullis slap shot put the Gophers up 3-0 about six minutes later. SchoullisâÄô goal was the first of a three-goal, six-minute scoring burst for the Gophers that put them up 5-0 at the end of the second period. The Gophers dominated the Bison the way they have dominated non-WCHA teams for years, outshooting the Bison in shots on goal 33-12 and attempting 79 shots. They constantly pressured the Bison defense by keeping the puck in the Bison zone for most of the game. The Gophers defense never allowed the Bison to develop a viable offensive threat. Coach Brad Frost was pleased with what he saw in the teamâÄôs first game after only five practices. âÄúIt was an exciting day and an exciting start to the season,âÄù Frost said. Coach Frost tried new lines throughout the afternoon, attempting to build chemistry while giving everyone an opportunity to play with each other. âÄúIt was a great opportunity for us to really see everybody play and mix the lines up quite a bit through each period,âÄù he said. Schoullis, who took a medical redshirt last season, was back on the ice for the first time in sixteen months and won several scrambles for loose pucks. On a team that brings back four of its five top goal scorers, Schoullis knows there are other roels to fill besides scoring. âÄúYou canâÄôt have all goal scorers,âÄù Schoullis said. âÄúThatâÄôs why you need big kids like me.âÄù Coach Frost split time between goalies Alyssa Grogan and Noora Raty, with Raty going until the ten minute mark in the second period and Grogan finishing the game from there. While Raty was an All-American and led Finland to a bronze medal in the Olympics last year, coach Frost has kept open the competition for the starting job between Raty, the WCHA goaltender of the year last season, and Gorgan, who led the WCHA in goals-against the season before. The Gophers were without freshman Kelly Terry and junior Anne Schleper. Terry was playing with the Canadian developmental team while Schleper, an All-American last season, was out with an undisclosed injury. The team says she will be ready for the opener against Clarkson. Related: – Women’s hockey set to take on Manitoba in exhibition (blog)