Gophers thwart Ohio State in weekend sweep

by Noah Seligman

Minnesota’s top-ranked women’s hockey team put on an offensive display Friday and Saturday nights at Ridder Arena.

The Gophers started their season with two big wins, putting up 13 goals in two games over visiting Ohio State. Minnesota outshot the Buckeyes 100-79 over two games.

Minnesota shared the wealth on offense during the series. Nine different players had points in each game.

Saturday night, the Gophers dominated the Buckeyes, winning 7-0. Minnesota was held to one shot during the first 10 minutes of play, but sophomore Krissy Wendell got on the board at 14:37 in the first period. Wendell scored a power play goal off a feed from Kelly Stephens and Natalie Darwitz. Stephens added a goal 84 seconds later on a backdoor pass from Darwitz, and Minnesota never looked back. Freshman Becky Wacker scored her first goal as a Gopher at the end of the first period to keep momentum in Minnesota’s favor.

In the second stanza, Darwitz went far post with a slapshot to put home her first goal of the season. Just over three minutes later, senior co-captain La Toya Clarke deflected a Lyndsay Wall shot past Buckeye goaltender Melissa Glaser to put the game out of reach for Ohio State.

In the third period, Noelle Sutton got on the board, and Clarke added a late goal for the Gophers.

The offense was prolific, but the defense was solid as well. Junior goalie Jody Horak pitched a shutout Saturday and came up with three big saves in the second period to thwart the Buckeyes. Horak had 23 saves, and the Minnesota defense prevented Ohio State from creating many scoring chances.

“(Saturday) it was a whole team effort,” Darwitz said. “It was an all-around good game. A lot of people got points; a lot of good defensive plays.”

Friday night, the fans were treated to the Wendell show. The Brooklyn Park, Minn., native lit the lamp four times to lead Minnesota to a 6-3 victory.

Minnesota was able to put the puck between the pipes at crucial times. Ohio State was leading 1-0 before Wendell scored her first goal of the game with 20 seconds left in the first period. Minnesota was leading 4-1 in the second period and appeared to have the game in hand, but the Buckeyes cut the Gophers’ lead to 4-3 after sophomore Janna Harrigan scored 4:59 into the third period. But Clarke gave Minnesota a little breathing room 25 seconds later off a feed from Darwitz. Wendell added her fourth goal at 12:16 of the period.

Power-play problems plagued the Buckeyes throughout the series. Ohio State was 0-13 with an extra skater and mustered only 12 power-play shots.

Ohio State coach Jackie Barto had nothing but compliments for Minnesota.

“They’re quick. They’re fast. They’re the number one team in the country right now and they had a great weekend.” Barto said.

Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson likes the direction her team is headed.

“I’m happy with where we are right now,” Halldorson said. “I think we’re making some progress.”