Minnesota’s second-ranked women’s hockey team was far from despondent after suffering its second-consecutive home loss, winding up on the short end of a 3-2 score Saturday against top-ranked Dartmouth (17-2-2, 9-0-1 ECAC).
The Gophers were fired up and anxious to get back on the ice for Sunday’s game.
Minnesota (20-3-1, 13-2-1 WCHA) came out strong and played aggressively on both ends of the ice, delivering a dominating performance in a 7-3 win.
“I was very pleased with our effort today and the way we responded from (Saturday’s) loss,” Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson said. “It was great to see a lot of different people put the puck in the net. It was just an all around team effort.”
Minnesota had 12 different players tally points Sunday, including freshman Maggie Souba who notched her second career point with an assist in the first period.
The Gophers opened the scoring at 3:37 of the first period. Senior forward Melissa Coulombe dug the puck out of the corner and sent it to freshman forward Andrea Nichols, who was circling toward the front of the net. Nichols then turned toward the goal and slid the puck past Dartmouth goaltender Christine Capuano.
Senior co-captain Kelsey Bills put home her third goal of the season off a feed from Souba at 16:38 of the period and Coulombe scored on a long slap shot less than a minute later to give the Gophers a commanding three goal lead after the first 20 minutes of play.
“I thought Minnesota came out and played really well,” Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak said. “They were on their game and did a very nice job doing what they needed to do. They executed well and did the little things well.”
Junior goaltender Jody Horak made some big stops for Minnesota, recording 21 saves, including several one-on-one chances for the Big Green.
Throughout the entire game the speed of Minnesota frustrated Dartmouth and the Gophers were able to find gaps in the Big Green’s defensive zone.
In the second stanza, Minnesota freshman forward Becky Wacker broke down the left wing and went top shelf to light the lamp. Sophomore forward Krissy Wendell got on the board with a power-play goal off a backdoor pass from junior forward Noelle Sutton.
The crowd of 2,214 gave the Gophers a standing ovation as Minnesota headed to the locker room with a 5-0 lead after two periods.
“It was definitely fun to have (the crowd) there,” Coulombe said. “It was really cool to have them and when we scored goals the crowd went wild.”
Dartmouth posted two of its three goals in the last three minutes of play after the Gophers had the game well in hand.
There was no big celebration after the horn sounded Sunday, but the win was vital for Minnesota heading into the final month of the regular season.
“I think we’re coming off this win with a lot of confidence, feeling good about ourselves and having a lot of people playing well right now, which is important,” Halldorson said. “It was a big victory for us. I feel pretty good about where we are right now.”
Wendell reaches milestone
With an assist in the second period of Saturday’s loss, Wendell notched her 100th collegiate point.
Wendell also tallied a goal and an assist in Sunday’s victory to push her consecutive point-scoring streak to 15.
Plethora of penalties
Saturday’s contest featured 12 penalties in the first period and 36 penalty minutes assessed in the first 40 minutes of the game.
Freshman defender Danielle Ashley set the school record for penalties and penalty minutes in a game as she was sent to the penalty box five times for 10 total minutes.
Junior forward Kelly Stephens was previously tied for the record but did not mind losing the mark.
“I think it’s great,” Stephens said. “You can’t have two knuckleheads running around. I don’t mind passing that off.”