Gophers set road winning streak record

Minnesota defeated Bemidji State 5-1 to win its 16th consecutive road game.

by Betsy Helfand

BEMIDJI, Minn. –- The Gophers women’s hockey team defeated Bemidji State 5-1 on Friday to win its 16th consecutive road game — a new NCAA record.

Minnesota overcame the absence of three freshmen and scored three goals in the second period to pull away from the Beavers.

“It took us a while to get our legs,” senior forward Becky Kortum said. “The second period has been our best all year, and luckily we picked it up.”

Kortum said the team has to have adversity somewhere, and right now it might be in the first period.

“I think it’s good for us to fight through stuff like that,” Kortum said.

The Beavers’ defense was compact, blocking a lot of shots in the process. Head coach Brad Frost said Bemidji State clogged the net up front.

“You just have to spread them out and continue to apply the pressure and hope that you get a few through,” he said.

Frost said the team was able to apply more pressure on in the second period, when the two teams took a combined nine penalties.

“It’s really hard to get in a rhythm” with so many penalties, Frost said.

Despite a couple of questionable calls, the Gophers killed the five penalties called against them in the second period.

Freshman forward Hannah Brandt scored the team’s first goal 10 minutes into the period on a 4-on-3.

A shot by Megan Bozek deflected off Kortum’s foot, and Brandt found the back of the net.

Less than two minutes later, junior forward Amanda Kessel hit freshman defenseman Lee Stecklein, who had just come out of the penalty box, near the post for a shorthanded goal.

“Amanda just held onto the puck long enough to let that defenseman go down and move the puck over to Lee, and they finished it well,” Frost said.

Meghan Lorence, playing on Minnesota’s top line in place of freshman forward Maryanne Menefee, backhanded in Minnesota’s third goal.

Lorence played on the team’s top line two weekends ago. She said the position brought a lot of pressure, but she got the feel of it against New Hampshire.

“Playing with Kessel and Hannah, they help me out a lot,” she said. “They’re easy to play with.”

Three Gophers freshmen sat out Friday.

Frost said Menefee and defenseman Milica McMillen were “trying to figure some things out academically” and forward Brook Garzone is on “medical leave.”

But the team’s depth, one of its key strengths, overcame their absences.

Bozek and Kortum added third-period goals to cap Minnesota’s scoring.

With a win Saturday, the Gophers would close out the first half of the season with a 20-0-0 record.

“If we keep crashing the net and try to get the pucks through on the blocks, I think we’ll be in good shape for tomorrow night,” Lorence said.