An offensive explosion pushes Gophers past Huskies

The winless Huskies fell to Minnesota 8-0 and 4-1 over the weekend.

by Nate Gotlieb

To say that the St. Cloud State womenâÄôs hockey team has struggled this season would be an understatement.

The Huskies, who finished third place in the WCHA a season ago, are 0-28-1 on the season. After four seniors accounted for 80 percent of their scoring last season, the Huskies have struggled to find an offensive identity, with all underclassmen on their top three lines.

So what chance did they have against a Minnesota squad eager to avenge a sweep the weekend before?

Very little. At least on Friday night.

The Gophers overwhelmed SCSU on Friday, scoring seven goals by the midway point of the second period, and coasting to an 8-0 win.

But Saturday, the Huskies played like a team with something to prove, limiting the Gophers to two goals after two periods.

While Minnesota went on to win 4-1, SaturdayâÄôs improved effort by SCSU was a contrast to the previous night.

âÄúTheyâÄôve got a lot of character and a lot of heart in that room,âÄù Gophers head coach Brad Frost said of SCSUâÄôs team. âÄúIt canâÄôt be easy for them to be winless. We knew that they were going to bring a great effort, especially after the game last night, and they did. They took it to us there in stretches of the game.âÄù

SCSU held the Gophers scoreless for the first period Saturday, playing with a renewed aggression on both ends of the ice.

âÄúThey took away our wings on our breakouts,âÄù sophomore Megan Bozek said. âÄúThey knew how to get around us on our fore check.âÄù

The Gophers finally got on the scoreboard midway through the second period on the power play, as freshman Amanda Kessel scored her third goal of the weekend. Freshman Kelly TerryâÄôs initial attempt was blocked by SCSU goalie Ashley Nixon, but Kessel buried the put back, giving the Gophers a 1-0 lead.

St. Cloud State responded just under three minutes later, scoring their first goal of the weekend.

The Gophers capitalized on a two-on-one opportunity late in the second, taking the lead for good. Bozek rushed the puck up the ice, and drove a blast into the chest of Nixon. The puck fell in the middle of the crease, and Becky Kortum pushed it in, giving the Gophers a 2-1 lead.

Schoullis added her second of the weekend early in the third period, and freshman Ashley Stenerson scored her first goal as a Gopher late in the third.

Though the Gophers scored two goals in the first period Friday, the team is still struggling to get out to fast starts, Frost said.

âÄúMy pregame speech tonight was, letâÄôs make this the best first period that weâÄôve had all year, letâÄôs start quick and score firstâÄù Frost said Friday. âÄúWe scored first and played okay âĦ but if I had the answer, weâÄôd be starting a little faster.âÄù

Minnesota proceeded to start the second period like it wanted to start the first, as Schoullis scored just 38 seconds into the period. By the time the period was over, the Gophers had built a seven-goal lead.

Although less aggressive during the third period, the Gophers managed an eight goal victory, as backup goalie Jenny Lura preserved the 8-0 shutout.

While the Gophers maintained a one-point lead for second place over North Dakota in the conference standings, their two-year run of WCHA regular season title officially ended this weekend, with WisconsinâÄôs 7-1 win over Bemidji State.