Women start season strong

The Gophers swept St. Cloud State University and set a record over the weekend.

Hannah Brandt maneuvers the puck towards the goal during the third period at Ridder Arena Friday evening where the Gophers defeated St. Cloud state 7-0.

Sam Harper

Hannah Brandt maneuvers the puck towards the goal during the third period at Ridder Arena Friday evening where the Gophers defeated St. Cloud state 7-0.

Emily Polglaze

The Minnesota women’s hockey team wasted no time announcing another strong season may be in the works. 
 
In the team’s conference-opening series against St. Cloud State University, it earned two shutouts, several career bests for its players and an NCAA record while sweeping the Huskies by a combined score of 18-0.
 
“We can obviously score, and that’s a great thing,” head coach Brad Frost said. “But I’m just as impressed or more impressed with our defensive play … really forcing teams to struggle to get opportunities on net; that’s been the biggest takeaway for me.”
 
On Friday, the Gophers (4-0, 2-0 WCHA) had a slower start but got on the scoreboard 9:06 into the game on an unassisted goal by sophomore forward Kelly Pannek. 
 
The Gophers scored two more goals second period with one on a power play by junior forward Dani Cameranesi and another from junior defenseman Lee Stecklein. 
 
Minnesota continued to dominate in the third by adding four goals. Sophomore forward Cara Piazza and senior defenseman Milica McMillen each scored, while Cameranesi and Pannek both capitalized on power-play opportunities to net their second goals of the night and make the final score 7-0. 
 
The Gophers were 3-3 on the power play Friday, an area that they struggled in during their opening weekend. 
 
“We’re getting used to the power plays and who we’re playing with. The chemistry is finally coming together,” Cameranesi said. “One of our goals is to get at least one power-play goal a game if we get the opportunity.” 
 
On Friday the team also raised its 2015 NCAA National Championship banner, ending the final chapter of last season.
 
“It was nice to have our seniors back and to have our fans there for that,” Frost said. “And then we could turn the page and get going for what’s next.”
 
The Gophers had no problem maintaining their momentum heading into Saturday’s game. 
 
In the first period, Minnesota put up three goals, one from Pannek and two from senior captain Hannah Brandt, who didn’t score a goal the previous night. 
 
In the second period, the Gophers squad scored eight goals to make the score 11-0, with Brandt adding two more to get a hat trick plus one. 
 
Brandt is now just four goals away from getting 100 in her career, a feat only three other Gophers skaters have accomplished. 
 
The Gophers’ eight goals set a new NCAA record for goals in a period in women’s collegiate hockey.
 
Three of the goals were scored in 32 seconds, which did not break the current program record of three in 29 seconds. 
 
The Gophers skated it out in the third period, making the final score 11-0. 
 
Along with Brandt, freshman Sarah Potomak helped lead the scoring with two goals and three assists, and sophomore Sydney Baldwin earned a career-high four assists.
 
Twelve Gophers tallied points in the game, with nine players having multi-point games. 
 
The Gophers outshot St. Cloud 62-11 on the weekend, and goaltenders Amanda Leveille and Sidney Peters both earned shutouts.
 
“We were pretty dominant this weekend, and we didn’t take any shifts off,” Brandt said. “If we can keep that going, it will make for a pretty good season.”