Gophers recover from loss with weekend sweep

Mark Heller

The Gophers women’s hockey team ran its unbeaten streak to 19 games before being pounded 9-0 by the Beatrice Aeros, a Canadian club team, last weekend.
So how did Minnesota rebound from its worst loss ever?
By sweeping unranked Cornell and Minnesota State-Mankato, of course.
“We put it (the loss) behind us quickly,” Gophers coach Laura Halldorson said. “Cornell was the best team we’ve played since New Hampshire (on Nov. 7).”
Minnesota (21-2-2) handled the Big Red with ease, winning 5-0 on Saturday and 6-1 on Friday. The Gophers then hosted Minnesota State on Sunday afternoon, winning 4-0.
This was the third meeting of the year between the Gophers and Minnesota State (10-12). Minnesota had won the previous two games by a combined score of 19-2.
Sunday’s game was much more respectable, thanks to Mavericks freshman goalie Jenny Padget.
The Gophers hounded Padget all day, but she stopped 14 shots in both the first and third periods — many of those at point-blank range — and finished with 41 saves on the day.
Padget kept Minnesota off the scoreboard until, with 42 seconds left in the first period, sophomore Winny Brodt’s centering pass from the corner was knocked in by Ambria Thomas for her ninth goal of the season to make it 1-0.
Minnesota got on the board again seven minutes into the second period. Junior Shannon Kennedy scored her seventh of the year, in the exact same way Thomas scored. This time, Thomas left the puck in the corner for Courtney Kennedy, who centered a pass in front for Shannon, who flipped a backhand into the upper left corner.
Kennedy’s goal was the first of three in the period for the Gophers, all three of them coming in a two-minute, 30-second stretch midway through the second period.
“We just slacked off for a couple minutes there,” Padget said. “Our defense let down. We played well together today, except for those two minutes. It was unfortunate.”
Center Jenny Schmidgall — who now leads the nation with 58 points — and Amber Hegland each added a goal in the second period to make it 4-0.
“I thought we played a great game and played very hard,” Maverick’s coach Todd Carroll said. “But give Minnesota credit, we had that one lapse and they took advantage.”
Backup goalie Crystal Nicholas got the start in net for Minnesota, and stopped all 14 shots she faced. She is now 8-0-0 on the year.
“I think they (Minnesota State) had more confidence than the previous games,” Brodt said. “They beat us to a lot of loose pucks, and their goalie played extremely well.”
On Saturday, Minnesota got goals from Emily Buchholz and Brodt in the second period, and Schmidgall and Brittny Ralph in the third. Gophers goalie Erica Killewald made 18 saves in the third period, posting her fifth shutout of the year.
Killewald starred for the Gophers against Cornell, winning both games by stopping 47 total shots. Until last Sunday, Killewald had not allowed a goal in more than 200 minutes of action.
The Gophers scored four times in the second period on Friday to snap a scoreless tie and went on to win 6-1. Minnesota outshot Cornell 40-15.
The Gophers play Minnesota State again this weekend, along with Augsburg College. But they will play two high-quality teams over the next two weeks when they host Providence and Brown, respectively.