Gophers end Duluth’s perfect start

The Bulldogs began the season 8-0-0, before Minnesota swept them.

Brian Deutsch

The Minnesota women’s hockey team shook things up a bit in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association this weekend.

The Gophers managed to outscore the usually dominant Minnesota-Duluth 5-3 Friday and completed the sweep Saturday with a 1-0 win.

After starting the season with eight straight wins, and all of them in conference play, the Bulldogs allowed more goals in two games against the Gophers (6) than they had allowed in all of their eight wins (5).

In the first period of Friday’s game, a sweep by Minnesota didn’t look realistic.

The Gophers (6-3-1 overall, 5-2-1 WCHA) came out overzealous and were unable to convert any of their first-period scoring chances.

On the other hand, Minnesota-Duluth capitalized on its opportunities and jumped out to an early 2-0 lead going into the first intermission.

When the Gophers came out onto the ice for the second period, they looked like a completely different team.

Minnesota pressured the offensive zone and it paid off for the Gophers as forwards Bobbi Ross, Whitney Graft and Kelli Blankenship scored three consecutive second-period goals to put Minnesota on top.

“We definitely cranked it up a couple notches,” coach Laura Halldorson said. “I think we came out with a better frame of mind and then when Bobbi scored, it definitely set the tone.”

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The Bulldogs (8-2-0, 8-2-0 WCHA) tied the game before the second stanza ended, but Ross jump-started Minnesota for the second time of the night four minutes into the third period.

Senior defenseman Maggie Souba cleared the puck from the defensive zone by knocking it along the boards to Ross’ stick. She took the puck in and used some fancy dekes to score the game-winner.

Seven minutes later, senior forward Becky Wacker added an insurance goal to secure the victory for the Gophers.

While Friday’s game featured plenty of scoring, the finale showcased a much-improved defense and even better goaltending by both teams.

The game remained scoreless for most of the first two periods until the Gophers got on the scoreboard with just under four minutes remaining in the second frame.

Graft started the play by getting the puck into the hands of senior forward Andrea Nichols.

Nichols skated deep into the offensive zone before sending the puck flying toward the goal from an extreme angle.

The shot bounced around Minnesota-Duluth senior goalie Riitta Schaublin’s pads before finding its way across the goal line.

“I just kind of threw it towards the net hoping for a rebound, but it worked out and went in,” Nichols said.

The goal was all Minnesota needed – thanks largely to the play of sophomore goalie Brittony Chartier.

She stopped 26 shots and earned her first shutout of the season.

“It’s nice to get the first one out of the way, it’s been awhile,” Chartier said. “The team just played phenomenal this weekend.”

Drazan and Brodt selected to U.S. team

Junior defenseman Rachael Drazan and former Minnesota player Winny Brodt were selected to the U.S. Four Nations Cup team.

Drazan is in her first season with the Gophers after transferring from Minnesota-Duluth and Brodt, who holds Minnesota records for goals, assists and points by a defenseman, graduated in 2003.

Both players will join sophomore forward Gigi Marvin and former Gophers Natalie Darwitz and Krissy Wendell when the U.S. team opens the tournament against Canada on Tuesday.