Non-conference remains generous in sweep of Harvard

Goalie Noora Raty makes a save Friday night at Ridder Arena.  Raty saved all 12 shots she faced before being taken out of the game in the second period after taking a shot to the face.

Goalie Noora Raty makes a save Friday night at Ridder Arena. Raty saved all 12 shots she faced before being taken out of the game in the second period after taking a shot to the face.

Nate Gotlieb

After weekends of injuries and tough losses to WCHA opponents, the Gophers capped their second sweep of a top-10 team this season with a 4-2 victory over Harvard on Sunday.

Goalie Noora Raty was back after missing the second half of FridayâÄôs 3-0 victory with a head injury, and saved 35 of 37 shots. Freshman Amanda Kessel played in her first full series since Oct. 30, returning to her lightning-quick self as the weekend went on. Freshman Bethany Brausen produced her first goal as a Gopher and the first goal for the third line this season.

âÄúThings are certainly looking a lot brighter now than they were three or four weeks ago,âÄù head coach Brad Frost said.

However successful the weekend ended, it wasnâÄôt a perfect start for the Gophers, who improved their non-conference record to 5-0 with the sweep.

Often a slow starting team, the Gophers managed only four shots on goal in the first period, their lowest total for a first period this season. They were fortunate, Frost said, that a Mira Jalosuo slap shot went untouched past Harvard defenders to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead late in the first.

âÄúFirst period we were, for some reason or another, what I would consider flat,âÄù Frost said.

The Gophers responded by outshooting the Crimson 22-11 the rest of the way, as Jen SchoullisâÄô two goals gave the Gophers a 3-0 win.

There was a tense moment midway through the second when Raty took a shot in the face. She remained motionless on the ice for a few minutes before leaving the game, although not with a concussion.

With backup goalie Alyssa Grogan injured, senior Jenny Lura got her first game experience of the year.

Lura went 15-2-1 with the Gophers in 2008-09 and helped the team make the Frozen Four, but she played only three games last season. She saved all ten shots she faced Friday.

âÄúOnce I got a couple, I was just feeling good,âÄù Lura said. âÄúI was just telling myself this is just like practice. I practice hard because weâÄôve got two goalies right now and I know thereâÄôs any chance I could go in âĦ I practice like IâÄôm going to play, in case I do go in.âÄù

While the injury to Raty was cause for concern, the Gophers benefited from the return of freshman Amanda Kessel Friday. Kessel, MinnesotaâÄôs leading scorer before her Nov. 5 injury, played alongside freshmen Sarah Davis and Kelly Terry for the first time this season.

The line produced only three assists but pestered the Harvard defense all weekend, creating solid scoring chances and drawing penalties.

Kessel, Terry and Davis are the teamâÄôs leading scorers this season, combining for 41 points and giving the Gophers offensive production that most teams rely on their upperclassmen for.

âÄúI donâÄôt have any reservations having those three out there together,âÄù Frost said. âÄúI think theyâÄôre doing just an exceptional job.âÄù

With Raty back in net Sunday, the Gophers jumped out to a 4-0 lead with goals by Kelly Seeler, Sarah Erickson, Jalosuo and Brausen.

The Gophers struggled to finish off Harvard, allowing the Crimson two goals, but held on.

âÄúWhen youâÄôve got a good team down by three or four goals, we need to continue to extend the lead and do those little things, getting pucks deep and providing energy on the puck,âÄù Frost said.