Gophers improve to 3-1 against No. 1 teams

Minnesota swept Duluth last week and split with No. 1 Wisconsin this week.

Nick Heronimus

All year the Minnesota women’s hockey team has said that each series is a learning experience for them, but this weekend, they displayed their new knowledge immediately.

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minnesota-duluth
what: Women’s Hockey
when: 3:30 p.m., Saturday
where: Duluth

The Gophers (6-3-1, 4-3-1 WCHA) were shut out 3-0 Friday against No. 1 Wisconsin, but rebounded in a big way Saturday by defeating the Badgers (9-2-1, 5-2-1 WCHA) by a score of 3-2.

In Friday’s match-up, Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead that the Gophers never overcame.

The Badgers scored all three of their goals in the first period.

“We made a couple of mistakes and Wisconsin capitalized,” senior forward Jenelle Philipczyk said.

Sophomore forward Kyla Sanders got Wisconsin on the board first with her sixth goal of the season.

Sanders continued her first-period offensive frenzy when she scored again to give the Badgers a 2-0 lead.

The final goal of the game came from junior forward Angie Keseley who ended the scoring for the period and the game by putting Wisconsin ahead for good at 3-0.

Minnesota outshot the Badgers 12-7 in the first period, but could not get any of those shots to find the net.

The Gophers had several chances in the first period to get on the board, but were unable to convert on those chances.

The final two periods of play saw Minnesota match Wisconsin’s play, but that wasn’t enough to overcome their three-goal deficit.

However, a trend that developed during the game was good penalty-killing for both teams.

The Gophers killed both of the power-play opportunities that the Badgers had. Wisconsin’s penalty kill was even more impressive as they killed all five of Minnesota’s power-play opportunities.

“We have our penalty-kill playing to its full potential,” said freshman forward Jen Schoullis.

Saturday the Gophers put the lessons learned from Friday’s game into action quickly.

Minnesota was the team this time that bolted out to the 3-0 lead.

“To get three goals was a huge lift,” head coach Brad Frost said.

Philipczyk started the scoring for the Gophers. Philipczyk knocked home the puck to score her first goal of the season.

Under a minute later, Schoullis added to Minnesota’s lead when she displayed tremendous puck-handling ability by skating around a defender before putting the puck past the Wisconsin goaltender.

Throughout the first period, the Gophers prevented the Badgers from putting together any serious scoring chances and made Wisconsin look like a team out of sync.

It appeared as if the first period would end without another goal by either team, but with only one minute left in the first period junior defender Rachael Drazan scored to give Minnesota a commanding 3-0 lead.

The teams played equally in the second period, but the action heated up at the end of the second period as the Gophers gave Wisconsin their first chance of many to get back into the game.

Junior defender Dagney Willey received a five-minute major penalty near the end of the second period, which gave the Badgers a long power-play opportunity.

The penalty which Willey received was labeled as “questionable” by Frost, but he was impressed with the way his team responded to that penalty.

Wisconsin eventually converted on that opportunity but not until the third period when sophomore forward Meghan Duggan put a rebound away for the Badgers first goal of the game.

Minnesota gave Wisconsin four power-play chances in the final period of play which nearly lead to their downfall.

The Badgers scored again with under three minutes to play when junior forward Erika Lawler knocked in the puck on another power-play chance.

That would be all for Wisconsin though as the Gophers penalty-kill arose to the occasion and prevented any more Badger shots from finding the net.

“We had a lot of penalties and they got a couple of goals but we were still playing well and we held on,” Philipczyk said.

Holding Wisconsin to two for nine on their power-play chances for the game was an impressive feat for the Gophers because they were without senior defender Anya Miller who was injured, sophomore forward Brittany Francis who was ill, and the loss of Willey due to her penalty.

“We were just hanging on, our kids battled and we played a really hard and smart game,” Frost said.