Women’s hockey skates to routine win

Mark Heller

How sweet it is to be a No. 1 seed.
For the Gophers women’s hockey team playing in the Midwest Showdown, it means a bye for the first game and playing at home throughout the tournament.
Minnesota opened the Showdown on Sunday by beating St. Cloud State (8-12-2) 10-0 on Sunday at Mariucci Arena.
The Gophers (26-3-3) will play Minnesota State-Mankato Thursday at 7 p.m. at Mariucci for the championship.
“I thought we played well today,” Gophers coach Laura Halldorson said. “We did a good job moving the puck and passing, plus we were 4-for-4 on the power play.”
The Kennedy sisters provided three of those four goals, led by Shannon, who scored the first two goals on the power play — the first of which took all of six seconds — for a quick 2-0 lead.
“I was disappointed,” said Shannon, who also had an assist. “I didn’t break the record [team record for quickest power play goal].”
Sophomore Winny Brodt flipped a backhand shot off a rebound for another power play goal and a 3-0 lead. Senior Amber Hegland, sophomore Ambria Thomas and sophomore Nadine Muzerall followed to give Minnesota a 6-0 lead after one period.
Brodt finished with two goals and an assist, while sophomore Kris Scholz added three assists.
Freshman goalie Crystal Nicholas started in goal and didn’t face a shot on goal until April Thornburg flipped the puck on net from center ice almost midway through the third period. She stopped both shots she faced for her seventh shutout of the season.
“I just try to stay focused, talk to myself and watch the game,” Nicholas said. “It’s hard in games like this.”
St. Cloud State coach Kerry Brodt — Winny’s older sister — was happy with her team’s effort despite the score.
“I told our team to just go out and hustle,” Kerry said. “You know you’re being toyed with [when it’s 8-0], and I don’t really have a problem with that. Our players are just working to the best of their ability, and they all have come from different backgrounds and playing experience. We’ve come a long way this season.”
As for Sunday’s family connection, “I talk to her a lot,” Kerry said. “We went out on Saturday with the family for my birthday.”
“It’s not any different of a game for me,” Winny said. “I don’t really pay attention to it.”
After Thursday night’s championship game, Minnesota is off until it hosts the Olympic Development Program against some of the nation’s top high school players on March 22. If the Gophers are selected to play in the AWCHA Championships on Mar. 26-27, the Olympic Development will be their final tune-up.
“Right now we’re only thinking about Mankato,” Halldorson said. “But hopefully it will be a good tune-up for the national tournament.”