Gophers extend winning streak

Minnesota extended its winning streak to 20 games, dating back to last season.

Minnesota forward Maryanne Menefee drives in for a goal Friday in Duluth, Minn. Menefee had two goals on the weekend as the Gophers swept Minnesota-Duluth.

Charlie Armitz

Minnesota forward Maryanne Menefee drives in for a goal Friday in Duluth, Minn. Menefee had two goals on the weekend as the Gophers swept Minnesota-Duluth.

Betsy Helfand

DULUTH, Minn. — The last time the Gophers journeyed up to Duluth they returned with a national championship.

Minnesota hasn’t lost since, and it continued its streak this weekend with 4-1 and 4-0 victories over Minnesota-Duluth at Amsoil Arena.

“It’s very exciting to beat the Bulldogs any time, especially in their home rink where we have a lot of history,” senior captain Megan Bozek said.

Bozek’s strong, accurate shot was on display as she scored a total of three goals between the two wins.

Head coach Brad Frost called it a “fantastic weekend,” citing his team’s sound defensive play, discipline in staying out of the penalty box and success on the power play.

He said Friday that he thought the team’s depth “just kind of overwhelmed [UMD] a little bit.”

The teams played two fast-paced games. Freshman forward Maryanne Menefee, who scored two goals Friday, said after the game  that it was the fastest she had played at the collegiate level — which she liked.

Junior forward Amanda Kessel had a goal and three assists on the weekend. She said after Saturday’s game that the key to playing two back-to-back, fast-paced games is keeping a strong mindset.

“[It’s] knowing that the second day is going to be harder but to bring all you have and that you’re done for the weekend after that,” she said.

Minnesota had just two penalties Saturday. Frost said that, combined with the fast pace, suits his team well.

“We’re able to play like that with our speed and our depth,” he said. “We don’t mind that at all.”

Duluth had just seven shots entering Saturday’s third period, and it finished with 17, all of which were saved by goalie Noora Räty. 

“Noora’s job was a little easier tonight,” Frost said. “[She] still made a few really big saves. Our back pressure being applied by our forwards has been huge.”

Frost tinkered with his second and third lines Friday, switching junior captain Bethany Brausen and junior forward Sarah Davis.

After a scoreless first period Friday, Brausen got the Gophers on the board with a goal 9:29 into the second period.

Brausen called the goal a “line effort” and said the switch-up helped spark the team.

“Sometimes you just need a little switch like that,” she said. “I think now that we made some switches … people get excited about the change and start buzzing a little different.”

Just 30 seconds after Brausen’s goal, Menefee scored the first of her two goals.

Frost said Friday that the Bulldogs played a great game and had the right game plan.

But it wasn’t enough against the defending national champions.

Brausen said when the Gophers arrived at Amsoil Arena on Friday, a teammate said it “smells like the national tournament in here.”

“It’s hard to ignore the excitement coming into the rink for the first time,” Brausen said. “All these memories come back. … It really puts you in the right direction to continue to do good things here.”

Dating back to last season, the Gophers have a 20-game winning streak, tying a program record.

The Gophers have next weekend off, but they’ll have a chance to set a new record in their next series Nov. 16-17 against Minnesota State-Mankato.

This week, Bozek, Kessel and freshman defenseman Milica McMillen will head to Finland to compete for Team USA in the Four Nations Cup. McMillen was a late addition to the roster.