Minnesota sweeps Huskies

by Brian Deutsch

Nine Gophers recorded a point Saturday as the Minnesota women’s hockey team scored the final three goals in a come-from-behind victory over St. Cloud State.

The Gophers shut out the Huskies 4-0 on Friday, but St. Cloud State rebounded and came out strong, scoring two first-period goals, but it wasn’t enough as Minnesota completed the sweep with a 6-4 win.

The Gophers (19-8-1 overall, 16-7-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) were startled by the Huskies’ quick start as St. Cloud State sophomore forward Megan McCarthy scored 43 seconds into the game and sophomore forward Sammy Nixon added another goal just over five minutes later.

“The first period was not a good period for us,” coach Laura Halldorson said. “We came out flat and St. Cloud (State) jumped all over us.”

The Huskies (9-14-7, 5-14-5 WCHA) came out strong on defense as well, preventing Minnesota from taking a shot on goal until nearly 10 minutes into the first period.

But the final two periods of play were drastically different from the first as the Gophers found the back of the net frequently.

“We didn’t panic (after the first period), we just got a little angry about it,” freshman forward Brittany Francis said. “I think we weren’t ready for the game at the beginning, but as we got into it we started to play our game.”

Minnesota was able to capitalize on the flustered Huskies, scoring a pair of goals in less than 30 seconds on two separate occasions during the remainder of the game.

In the second period, the Gophers scored four goals, including sophomore forward Gigi Marvin and senior Andrea Nichols’ back-to-back goals that came 21 seconds apart. St. Cloud State scored a pair of goals in the period and teams entered the third period tied 4-4.

The tie didn’t last long though, as Minnesota senior defenseman Maggie Souba picked up the game winner 27 seconds into the third period. It was just the second goal of her career, coming almost two years after her first goal.

Her first goal came on Feb. 5, 2005, in a 5-1 win over St. Cloud State. Souba recorded the game winner in that contest as well.

Francis added an insurance goal 29 seconds later to end the scoring frenzy.

Francis and junior defenseman Anya Miller led Minnesota on Saturday, recording a goal and a pair of assists apiece.

Hanlon, juniors shine in shutout

Friday’s 4-0 shutout was the polar opposite of Saturday’s goal-fest.

The Gophers’ junior class contributed most, scoring all four of the game’s goals.

Forwards Bobbi Ross, Jenelle Philipczyk and Erica McKenzie along with Miller all lit the lamp in the win.

However, it was the performance of sophomore goaltender Kim Hanlon that sealed the win for Minnesota.

“I thought (Kim) was solid Ö always in the right position and did a nice job covering up the loose pucks,” Halldorson said. “Anytime you get a shutout, you’re doing something right.”

Hanlon stopped 19 shots and recorded her second shutout in three games in the win.

“My job is to stop the puck,” Hanlon said. “I’m just doing my part to keep my team in the game.”

Something special

The Gophers’ special teams continued to play soundly over the weekend.

Over the weekend series, Minnesota scored four power-play goals.

“As of late, both of our units have been doing really well on the power play,” Miller said. “When your power play (units) can score like that you usually end up on top, and it gains momentum for you.”

The Gophers’ penalty killing unit has been solid as well and hasn’t allowed a power-play goal in four games. In those four games, Minnesota’s opponents have had 21 unsuccessful power-play opportunities.

“We continued to be aggressive on the (penalty kill), really forcing them to make passes,” Halldorson said. “That was a little bit risky, but we did a good job with it.”