Gophers sweep OSU at home in final series of 2011

Minnesota shuffled lines all weekend, but managed to sweep the Buckeyes.

Minnesota defender Rachel Ramsey and forward Jen Schoullis fight fight for the puck against Ohio State on Saturday afternoon at Ridder Arena. The Gophers claimed victory 4-1.

Minnesota defender Rachel Ramsey and forward Jen Schoullis fight fight for the puck against Ohio State on Saturday afternoon at Ridder Arena. The Gophers claimed victory 4-1.

Samuel Gordon

The No. 2 Gophers (17-3-0, 11-3-0 WCHA) punctuated a strong first half of 2011-12 with a sweep of Ohio State (9-7-2, 6-7-1 WCHA) at Ridder Arena.

An injury to forward Kelly Terry in the first period of Saturday’s game forced head coach Brad Frost to shuffle lines in both games, but players stepped up, and six different Gophers scored on the weekend.

âÄúI think everybody jumped into roles they didn’t know they were going to be in,âÄù center Jen Schoullis said. âÄúEverybody performed really well.âÄù

Minnesota parlayed a flurry of first-period scores and Noora RätyâÄôs excellent goaltending (27 saves) into a 4-1 win in Saturday’s contest. The Gophers won 3-1 Sunday.

âÄúWe did a good job of jumping on them early,âÄù Frost said Saturday. âÄúI thought Noora might have had one of her better games of the year tonight.âÄù

The Gophers capitalized on an early Ohio State penalty to nab a 1-0 lead just 3:16 into the game.

Freshman defenseman Rachel Ramsey fielded a pass from Anne Schleper in transition and fired a wrist shot past Buckeyes goalie Lisa Steffes with just three seconds remaining on the power play.

Less than 30 seconds later, freshman forward Rachael Bona gave Minnesota a 2-0 lead with her third goal of the season.

Emily West tacked on the Gophers’ third goal of the period just 1:14 later, and Minnesota held a 3-0 lead going into the first intermission.

âÄúObviously a quick start is one of [the] keys to success,âÄù West said Saturday. âÄúGoing out tonight and scoring a quick goal was huge.âÄù

Amanda Kessel scored 3:12 into the second period.

Danielle Gagne put OSU on the board midway through the period, but MinnesotaâÄôs defense subdued the Buckeyes for the remainder of the game, and the Gophers held on for a 4-1 victory.

SundayâÄôs affair was a bit closer.

Early in the first period, Kessel sent a pinpoint pass to Megan Bozek in the slot, who scorched a one-timer past Steffes.

The 1-0 score held until the intermission.

Minnesota caught the Buckeyes in the middle of a line change and took advantage when Schoullis scored on a breakaway just less than two minutes into the second period.

OSU made things interesting, though. Buckeyes forward Laura McIntosh took a Natalie Spooner pass and put one in from point-blank range to make it a 2-1 game 13:01 into the second.

However, OSU couldn’t capitalize on some late scoring chances and Räty was superb down the stretch.

Kessel added an empty-net goal for a 3-1 victory.

âÄúI don’t think we played our best weekend of hockey … but it was nice to have a game like that to find a way to win a close game,âÄù Schoullis said. âÄúIt was a good experience.âÄù

The Gophers will have a break until the end of December, when they will reconvene in preparation for a home series with No. 1 Wisconsin on Jan. 6-7.

âÄúEveryone can use a break. Go home with family, friends,âÄù Bozek said. âÄúBut I think we know what we need to do since we’re playing the No. 1 team in the country six days later.

“ItâÄôll be a good break, but a tough break.”