Gophers eek out wins against Whitecaps and Wayne State

Freshman forward Amanda Kessel advances the puck up the ice at Ridder Arena on Saturday.

Simon Guerra

Freshman forward Amanda Kessel advances the puck up the ice at Ridder Arena on Saturday.

Nate Gotlieb

The Gophers womenâÄôs hockey team has a knack for using the five hole to win close games. While the team consistently creating scoring opportunities but couldnâÄôt get the puck into the net, Jen Schoullis and Amanda Kessel snuck the winning goals of each game under the goaliesâÄô legs this weekend. The Gophers beat the Minnesota Whitecaps 3-2 in an exhibition Friday and eeked out their third regular-season win against Wayne State, 1-0, on Saturday. SchoullisâÄô second goal Friday night capped a one-minute, two-goal rally that put the Gophers ahead 3-2. She was as surprised as anyone that her final shot went in. âÄúI actually whiffed on it,âÄù Schoullis said. âÄúI was going far post and it ended up going five hole and I didnâÄôt get too much on it. When I heard it hit the back of the net, it was pretty exciting.âÄù The Whitecaps, a semi-pro womenâÄôs team in the Western WomenâÄôs Hockey League, cracked the GophersâÄô defense with a goal for the first time this season, albeit an unofficial one, midway through the first. The Gophers were on the verge of their first loss this season, too, trailing 2-1 with just over two minutes left in the third period. But they answered late on a scramble in front of the net credited to freshman Sarah Davis âÄî the first (though unofficial) goal of her career âÄî and Schoullis slid in the winner just over a minute later. âÄúIt couldnâÄôt have come at a better time to help my team out and tie the game up,âÄù Davis said. âÄúItâÄôs like we got the monkey off our back here. Finally the first goal for our line. It felt good to get that for sure.âÄù The Whitecaps are a team comprised of former Division I hockey players that Frost describes as âÄúa good college team even though theyâÄôre all out of collegeâÄù and have much less practice time. They had five former Gophers on the ice Friday, including 2005-06 WCHA goaltending champion Kim Hanlon. Hanlon saved 37 shots, preserving the Whitecaps narrow lead for most of the second and third periods. âÄúWe got as much out of this game as we ever would have wanted,âÄù Frost said Friday. Kessel put the Gophers on the board early against Wayne State with an unassisted, breakaway goal, splitting two defenders, 5:38 into the first period. It would be all the scoring theyâÄôd get. âÄú[Wayne State] did a good job clogging up the middle of the ice in their zone and their goaltender made some exceptional saves,âÄù Frost said on Saturday. The Gophers tallied 80 shots on goal on the weekend but only scored four times. In their series against Clarkson the previous weekend, they scored eight goals on 86 shots. âÄúYou can say either itâÄôs, âÄòAh, just not our night and weâÄôre not going to get the bounces so letâÄôs just kind of go through the motions,âÄôâÄù Frost said, âÄúor you can continue to stay with it and not get frustrated and know that hopefully eventually itâÄôs going to pop.âÄù The Gophers had to deal with losing key contributors on both the offensive and defense end. Emily West, the teamâÄôs leading scorer from last year, injured her leg in the final game of the Clarkson series and will not be ready for the WCHA opener against North Dakota on Oct. 15. Defenseman Megan Bozek crashed against the boards in the first period Saturday and did not return. Bozek won a second team All-WCHA honors as a freshman last season and led the team in power play points with 20. Frost continued to use goalies Noora Raty and Alyssa Grogan on a rotation this weekend. Grogan allowed two goals and saved 20 shots Friday night while Raty stopped all 16 Wayne State shots Saturday.