Gophers steam past Huskies with 10-1 wins

by Paul Markgraff

The first two games of the Minnesota women’s hockey season resulted in 20 goals and a pair of 10-1 wins against WCHA Women’s League rival St. Cloud State.
At St. Cloud on Saturday afternoon, the Gophers maintained a powerful offense and tough defense which allowed junior winger Ambria Thomas to strike first with a power-play goal.
But St. Cloud’s Amanda Mathison caught Minnesota off guard when she evened the score two minutes later with an unassisted slap shot from just within the blue line.
“When St. Cloud scored, that was definitely a wake-up call,” said Gophers coach Laura Halldorson. “I just didn’t think we were ready to play at the beginning of the game.”
But after the Huskies scored, the Gophers never looked back.
Six minutes later, junior center Sarma Pone sent a shot into the back of the net after her teammates fought diligently for the puck inside the Huskies’ blue line to put the Gophers up 2-1.
Then they were home free.
Defender Winny Brodt, and forwards Tracy Engstrom and Ronda Curtin all scored a goal apiece within one minute and 30 seconds at the end of the first period.
By the end of the first period, the Gophers were up 5-1.
When St. Cloud came out in the second period, they started playing harder. They tried to set up offenses and play consistently, but the Gophers defense was too much for the Huskies.
By the end of the second period, the Gophers were up 7-1, thanks to a strong wrist shot from junior center Nadine Muzerall and a goal from Curtin.
By that time, it was lights out for St. Cloud, but the Gophers still managed to score three more goals. Engstrom scored two more and the freshman, Curtin, scored one more, to complete their respective hat tricks.
Friday night’s game was more of the same. The Gophers defeated St. Cloud in convincing fashion to show that they are a power in the WCHA this season.
The offense did a nice job of penetrating the Huskies defense.
Muzerall started the season out for the Gophers by scoring on a smooth outside-inside wraparound goal that left St. Cloud goalie Laura Gieselman stunned.
Then came the barrage. Minnesota scored five more times before allowing a passing shot from the Huskies’ Rebecca Olson to slide into the goal.
By the time the third period had begun, the Gophers had an 8-1 lead and 45 shots. Minnesota’s defense broke the Huskies’ spirit early and held St. Cloud to only 17 shots.
Then the Gophers relaxed in the third period. They took their time with the puck, and didn’t penetrate toward the goal with the intensity they used in the first two periods.
Even with the lack of urgency, junior wingers Betsey Kukowski and Lacey Franzmeier still netted a goal apiece.
Despite the poundings, Halldorson said the St. Cloud team had improved over the last year, but said, “It’s never going to be complete parity. But I do think that these teams are going to catch up.”

Paul Markgraff covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]