Minnesota had allowed four goals in six games, but they never trailed until this weekend.
No. 1 Minnesota had to rally for the first time this season to beat the University of Minnesota-Duluth 5-2 on Friday and won 6-1 on Saturday to sweep the series at home.
“I really liked the resilience of our team. Duluth is very well-coached and put a lot of pressure on the puck,” head coach Brad Frost said on Friday. “But I was happy with our discipline after we gave up those first two goals.”
Friday’s game marked the first time this season the Gophers (8-0, 6-0 WCHA) didn’t score first in a game.
Duluth (4-6, 2-4 WCHA) scored 6:55 into the game on the power play, giving Minnesota a 1-0 deficit after the first period.
The Bulldogs continued to pressure the Gophers in the second and scored again on the power play 6:32 into the period to go up 2-0.
Minnesota came back in the second, though, with two goals from sophomore forward Kelly Pannek, tying the game 2-2 after 40 minutes of play.
Twenty-nine of Minnesota’s 54 goals this season have come in the second period.
“We try to start fast, but with every team we make adjustments,” Pannek said. “We try to focus on building every period, and it just so happens the second period has been one of our go-to periods, and we can rely on that.”
The Gophers added three more goals in the third period from sophomore forward Dani
Cameranesi, freshman forward Sarah Potomak and sophomore forward Cara Piazza to get the 5-2 victory.
Senior defenseman Milica McMillen picked up three assists in the game and became the sixth defenseman in program history to reach 100 career points.
“I feel pretty honored,” McMillen said. “There’s been some great defensemen in this program, and I remember watching a lot of them and thinking about how amazing they were. It’s pretty cool to be up there.”
The Gophers started out stronger in the second game Saturday.
Senior forward Brook Garzone struck first for Minnesota 4:37 into the game, giving the Gophers a 1-0 lead after one period.
And Minnesota ensured in the second period they wouldn’t face a deficit again on the weekend. The Gophers added two goals from Cameranesi, another from Pannek and one more from Piazza in the period.
Duluth managed one goal in the second, but the Gophers led 5-1 after the period.
Freshman Anna Barlow got her first career goal 8:45 into the third period to make the final score 6-1.
Frost said on Friday the Gophers needed to clean up their penalty kills after Duluth’s two goals came from power-play opportunities.
The next night, Minnesota killed all three of their penalties.
The Gophers were also 2-3 on their power play Saturday. Minnesota is scoring on half of their power-play opportunities this season.
Minnesota is also outscoring its opponents 54-7 through eight games.
“It shows the team that we’re disciplined and go 110 percent,” Cameranesi said. “We have the ability to come back; we just have to do the little things and make smart plays.”