Gophers survive poor starts, extend streak

Minnesota swept Ohio State despite continuing a recent trend of struggling in the first and second periods.

Megan Ryan

The Gophers women’s hockey team swept Ohio State over the weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and extended its record- winning streak to 38 games.

But that’s not the only pattern Minnesota continued.

In the past few games, the Gophers have kept the contest close in the first two periods before dominating the game in the third.

“I don’t think we’ve been playing our best lately,” junior forward Amanda Kessel said, “and that’s something that we need to get back on track here for the last couple weeks.”

On Friday, Minnesota gave up a 2-0 lead in the second period before eventually pulling away for a 5-2 win.

On Saturday, the Gophers trailed after the first period for the third time this season. They fell behind after one period a week ago against Minnesota-Duluth.

While the Gophers won 5-3, junior forward and captain Bethany Brausen said she has noticed the team’s play improve throughout games.

“I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Brausen said, “but we’re definitely working, making sure that we’re playing that full 60 minutes.”

Brausen scored the first goal in Friday’s game two minutes into the first period. She said she told her teammates to step it up early to prevent a slow start.

“Ohio is always kind of a hike to get out here with the plane and everything,” Brausen said. “So I knew that our team probably wasn’t going to come out as much as we might come at home series.”

Megan Bozek scored in the second period to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead. But they gave up their lead after Buckeye goals from sophomore forward Danielle Gagne and senior forward Hokey Langan.

Kessel regained the lead for the Gophers at 14:37 in the second period before third-period goals from sophomore forward Rachael Bona and Brausen put the game away.

Saturday’s game started off worse for the Gophers. Ohio State sophomore defender Kari Schmitt scored about five minutes into the first period. Bozek tied the game at 1-1, but Buckeye’s senior forward Tina Hollowell responded to put the Buckeyes up 2-1 at the first intermission.

“Today we started a little slow, but as the periods wear on we tend to gain our legs,” head coach Brad Frost said Saturday. “We were able to, with our depth and our speed, continue to wear them down.”

Freshman forward Maryanne Menefee and sophomore forward Meghan Lorence both scored in the second period for the Gophers. Two third-period goals from Kessel sealed Minnesota’s comeback victory.

Kessel said she thinks her team’s slow starts stem from a lack of concentration.

“Getting deeper in the season, we just have been winning so much lately that we just lost focus,” Kessel said. She added that the problem won’t be hard to fix.

To refocus, Brausen said her team needs to get back to the basics, including bringing the same intensity as its opponents to every game.

“If they come out and they beat us, who have been having a great season, it really, really says something about their program,” Brausen said. “And I think that sometimes for us, it gets a little complacent.”