Minnesota finishes first half of season winning 10 straight

Brian Deutsch

After allowing only one goal and 24 shots in two games, the Minnesota women’s hockey team ended the first semester on a ten-game winning streak – playing perfect in November and December.

The Gophers swept North Dakota with an 8-1 on Saturday and a 1-0 victory Sunday to finish the first half of the season.

After Saturday’s opener started off with 18 minutes of scoreless hockey, the Gophers (14-3-1 overall, 11-2-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) rattled off eight goals in the final 42 minutes.

Junior forward Bobbi Ross jumpstarted the scoring run with the first two goals of the game.

“The first game was just a very solid game, we played 60 great minutes,” Ross said. “Overall in the 120 minutes that we played this weekend, we were fairly consistent and put out a pretty good performance.”

Ross scored her first goal with just under two minutes remaining in the first period on a Minnesota power play, and added another goal three minutes into the second when she converted a North Dakota turnover into a short-handed goal.

Overall, 13 Gophers recorded a point in the rout, including freshman forward Jamie Horton’s first career goal, which came in the third period.

Another freshman first for Minnesota came when goalie Brittany Krause replaced senior Brittony Chartier in the third period.

In her first collegiate appearance, Krause stopped five shots from the Sioux (3-13-2, 0-11-1 WCHA). Chartier allowed one goal and made six saves in the first two periods.

Unlike Saturday’s game, the Sunday finale featured very little offensive production by Minnesota.

“Although the scores were very different between games one and two, the important thing is we got two (wins),” coach Laura Halldorson said. “North Dakota played a lot better (Sunday). I give them a lot of credit for making it a closer game.”

Gophers freshman forward Kelli Blankenship scored the lone goal of the game six minutes into the second period when teammates Jenelle Philipczyk and Tiffany Johnson set Blankenship up for her ninth goal of the year.

“I think we played hard both games,” Blankenship said. “I just don’t think we capitalized on our opportunities in the second game.”

One reason that the Gophers could afford to miss opportunities was the performance of sophomore goalie Kim Hanlon.

In just her second game in goal this season, Hanlon recorded the shutout, making 12 saves.

Ross and Gagnon out

When Minnesota returns to action after the break, it will do so without Ross and sophomore defenseman Melanie Gagnon.

The duo will miss the Wisconsin series on Jan. 5-6 to play for the Canadian Under-22 team in Germany.

“It’s too bad that we miss such a big weekend, but we have such a deep and strong team that it won’t even matter,” Ross said. “We’re going to pick up right where we left off and hopefully we pull out two real big games.”

UND coach steps aside

After a disappointing 3-13-2 start, the University of North Dakota announced today that women’s hockey coach Shantel Rivard has stepped aside as head coach.

Rivard’s contract will not be renewed next summer and the coach will be reassigned to other duties in the athletic department.

“I really respect Shantel and the job she has done,” Halldorson said. “I don’t think it is fair.”

Assistant coach Dennis Miller will serve as interim coach until a replacement is found.