Gophers open WCHA playoffs with 4-1 win over SCSU

Nate Gotlieb

The Gophers defeated St. Cloud State 4-1 on Friday night at Ridder Arena in the first game of the WCHA playoffs.  

Maryanne Mefefee, Meghan Lorence, Kate Schipper and Rachel Ramsey scored for the top-seeded Gophers (33-1-1) as they won their 13th-consecutive game. 

Sophomore goalie Amanda Leveille made 16 saves, and the Gophers outshot eighth-seeded St. Cloud State 43-17, including 35-9 over the last two periods.

“I thought we were just inches off from a couple goals there in the first,” head coach Brad Frost said. “And I thought just overall we played a real solid game. Power play was clicking, penalty kill was good, and it’s a good way to start.”

The Gophers and St. Cloud State (4-26-5) were scoreless after one period. Both teams took eight shots, though Minnesota generated better chances.

“We had some good chances in the first,” Lorence said. “I think we outplayed them a lot, but they played really well defensively.”

Menefee scored 25 seconds into the second period. Lorence added a power-play goal at 14:25, and freshman Kate Schipper added a goal 18:02 through the period. 

Though St. Cloud State added a late goal from senior Julia Gilbert, the Gophers’ speed and skill was apparent in the second, as they outshot the Huskies 18-4. 

Junior defenseman Rachel Ramsey added the Gophers fourth goal early in the third period, when she snuck a wrist shot by St. Cloud State goal Julie Friend.

Friend withstood constant peppering from the Gophers. The Huskies struggled to generate offense, but she kept them within a manageable distance, making 39 saves.

The Gophers haven’t lost since Nov. 17 and clinched the WCHA regular-season title Feb. 14 with a 3-2 win over Wisconsin. If the team beats the Huskies tomorrow, it will play next weekend in Bemidji, Minn., for the WCHA Final Face-Off title and an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

That game is 4:07 p.m. tomorrow at Ridder Arena. 

Follow on Twitter (@NateGotlieb) tomorrow for live play-by-play.