Streaking Minnesota wins two more

Minnesota has now won 13 straight conference games and extended its unbeaten streak to 17.

Austin Cumblad

If the last two weekends have said anything about the Minnesota women’s hockey team, it’s that they don’t like being behind.

After falling down a goal to Bemidji State only 55 seconds into Friday afternoon’s game, the Gophers scored five unanswered goals for a commanding 5-1 victory and followed that with a 4-1 thumping of the Beavers on Saturday.

up next

Ohio State
what: Women’s hockey
when: 7 p.m., Friday
where: Ridder Arena

With the sweep, Minnesota is now unbeaten in 17 straight games and has won its last 13 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Despite such success, the Gophers (21-4-3 overall, 17-4-1 WCHA) have been unable to gain any ground in conference. Minnesota-Duluth, the only team ahead of Minnesota in the WCHA, has a 16-game win streak of its own, and remains 7 points ahead, though they have played two more games than the Gophers.

The growth of the team in the past two weeks may be more important than the standings, however.

Like last Saturday, Minnesota found itself trailing early when Bemidji State (4-21-3, 1-19-2) scored less than a minute into the game.

“We didn’t come out fast enough and it cost us,” coach Brad Frost said. “But the kids kept their composure and played really strong.”

Really strong indeed.

The Gophers notched two quick goals near the end of the first period to gain the lead and momentum going into the second, and they never looked back.

On Saturday, Minnesota picked up where it left off, netting two goals on 19 shots in the first, then another only 22 seconds into the second.

The fact that the Gophers were able to find the back of the net nine times against goalkeeper Emily Brookshaw, who before this weekend boasted a 2.55 goals against average, is very encouraging for the Gophers.

“She’s a really good goalie so we just had to test her,” sophomore forward Brittany Francis said. “We made a goal for ourselves to limit the amount of shots they would get, and by working hard defensively our offense developed.”

Without a doubt, Minnesota was solid on both ends of the ice. On Friday, they allowed only 12 shots on goal while peppering Brookshaw with 39. Again Saturday only 18 shots got to junior keeper Kim Hanlon while Brookshaw was tested with 42.

The Gophers also saw impressive play from their special teams. They stayed disciplined, committing only five penalties all weekend and not giving up a power-play goal, while converting 4-of-10 of their own chances.

“Both units did a really nice job but our second unit in particular got a couple nice goals,” Frost said. “We’ve got both clicking and its certainly paying dividends for us.”

Minnesota’s depth extends beyond the special teams units, however. All nine goals scored by the Gophers this weekend were netted by different players.

Such depth may prove critical as Minnesota nears the end of the regular season, as it could prove to be a difference maker in big games.

When it comes down to it, though, the Gophers just want to continue winning.

“We have a chance to do big things this year so we know we have to win every game no matter who we’re playing,” senior forward Jenelle Philipczyk said. “Every point counts right now.”