Sioux-eep: Women’s hockey thwarts North Dakota at home

Aaron Blake

There was a massive feast this weekend at Ridder Arena, and just about everybody got a piece.

Thirteen different players scored for Minnesota’s top-ranked women’s hockey team in a pair of lashings of North Dakota, winning 10-1 on Sunday after a 6-2 victory Saturday.

Every one of the 15 Gophers skaters except Krista Johnson and Stacy Troumbly notched points as Minnesota maintained its unbeaten season, moving to 11-0-1 overall and 7-0-1 in the conference.

Minnesota is now halfway to its longest unbeaten streak in team history, which was set at 24 in the 2001-02 campaign.

North Dakota (3-11-2), which will join the WCHA next year after its second season in existence, provided little competition for a Gophers squad, which took pride in passing over the weekend.

“I thought we played with a lot of energy and moved the puck well,” Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson said. “It was good to see our power play score a couple goals.”

On the weekend, Natalie Darwitz and Kelly Stephens led the team with seven points each, six of which came Sunday for both.

Stephens’ hat trick Sunday was the first of her career, and she also notched her 100th collegiate point with the third goal at 4:02 of the third period.

Darwitz’s five assists Sunday tied her own team record. She is now one point away from also reaching 100 career points.

Krissy Wendell added five points and was the star Saturday with a goal and a pair of assists.

“We’ve got three lines with goal-scorers on them,” freshman Lyndsay Wall said. “And it’s good to have a few people score their first goals of the season today.”

The defenders also got in on the scoring action. Allie Sanchez and Ashley Albrecht both notched their first goals of the season and Wall doubled her goal total for the season with a pair of slapshots from the point Sunday.

Freshman Andrea Nichols’ two goals Sunday also gave her four for the season.

What it all accumulated to was the best offensive weekend of the season for the Gophers, who hadn’t scored 10 goals in a game since a 10-2 victory over St. Cloud State on Jan. 11 of last season.

Minnesota also scored three pairs of goals, which came within a minute of each other Sunday, with a pair coming in each period.

“We saw a lot of different goaltenders this weekend,” Halldorson said. “I think that was a factor.

“They’re only in their second season. To face our team, which has been around for so long and has had the success that we’ve had, and for them to battle all the way through is impressive.”

Minnesota has played just one game decided by one goal or less – a 1-1 tie with Minnesota State, Mankato, last Saturday.

The Gophers will play host to Bemidji State this weekend and then take a month off before returning to action at rival and defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth on Jan. 10.

“This was good to get the kinks out and just join together in the first part of the season,” Stephens said.

Halldorson concurred.

“We were fine-tuning some things,” Halldorson said. “We’re going to face tougher opponents down the road. We haven’t seen Duluth or Dartmouth, and I expect Wisconsin to continue to improve.”

Cecko makes her return

Coon Rapids, Minn., native Laura Cecko, a former Minnesota women’s hockey player, faced her old teammates for the first time since she played 38 games during the 2001-02 season for the Gophers.