Gophers sweep Minnesota State

Altered lines sparked Minnesota to their first sweep of 2012, and just their second on the road.

Samuel Gordon

MANKATO, Minn. âÄî Coming into the weekend against last-place Minnesota State, the Gophers had yet to record a sweep in 2012.

Minnesota notched its first sweep of the calendar year and just its second road sweep all season in beating the Mavericks 6-3 Friday and 4-1 Saturday.

Emily West had her first career hat trick Friday and added a goal Saturday, and Kelly Terry scored in both games.

âÄúItâÄôs a great time of the year to start coming together. I think the first game we struggled a little bit, and we found it in the second game there,âÄù Terry said. âÄúIf we can keep it going, itâÄôll be great for us.âÄù

Minnesota (22-4-2, 16-4-2 WCHA) exploded out of the gates Friday as forwards Terry, Sarah Erickson and Bethany Brausen scored to put the No. 2 Gophers up 3-0.

But MSU (7-21-0, 3-19-0 WCHA) showed some fight and made it close in the second period. Tracy McCann and Kari Lundberg both scored in the first four minutes to make it a 3-2 game.

West âÄî assisted by Amanda Kessel and Jen Schoullis âÄî scored 5:53 into the stanza to provide Minnesota a little breathing room. With the assist, Kessel became just the fourth sophomore in program history to reach the 100-point mark.

McCann made it a 4-3 game with her second goal with 3:27 left in the period, and the pressure was back on the Gophers heading into the third.

In wake of the MavericksâÄô rally, Minnesota switched up its lines a bit in the third period, and the adjustments paid off. West scored twice more, and the Gophers won 6-3.

âÄúI think we were just trying to find a spark, and [the lines] will probably change until we find that,âÄù West said. âÄúWeâÄôll just kind of go with it and deal with it.âÄù

On Saturday, the Gophers shifted their lines yet again. Kessel, normally a first-line forward, moved down to the second line and West assumed her spot on the top unit.

Neither team scored in the first period but just 29 seconds into the second, Terry scored to put Minnesota up a goal.

âÄúI just thought we continued to gel. All of our lines were a little different this weekend just trying to find some combinations,âÄù Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said. âÄúOnce they started to get a little more comfortable with one another, they were able to become a little more cohesive.âÄù

Lauren Zrust scored for MSU and knotted up the game on a power-play goal but the tie didnâÄôt last long.

Just 63 seconds later, defenseman Kelly Seeler scored from just inside the blue line to give Minnesota a lead it would not relinquish.

Rachel Ramsey and West both scored power-play goals in the third period and the Gophers won 4-1.

Despite earning a sweep, West said she wasnâÄôt content with the way the team performed.

âÄúI donâÄôt think we played our best, but I think we got it done. WeâÄôll look to fix some things in practice,âÄù she said.

Frost said heâÄôs unsure if the lines will continue to change going forward.

The Gophers will head to St. Cloud next weekend for a series with St. Cloud State.