FOR PAPER ONLY DO NOT EDIT OTHER WOMEN’S HOCKEY STORIES: Minnesota sweeps St. Cloud State and moves on to face Ohio State in the WCHA semifinals

Nicole Schammel had key goals in each game to spark the Gophers

by Max Biegert

The Gophers scored two goals Saturday from a duo who had only combined for four other goals all year prior to the playoff game against St. Cloud State.   

Defenseman Emily Brown put the Gophers ahead 1-0 8:57 into the first period. Then, after a goal by the Huskies to tie the game, sophomore defenseman Patti Marshall flung a low shot in from the blue line for her second goal of the year, putting the Gophers ahead 2-1 and in the lead for the rest of the game.

No. 3 seed Minnesota (22-10-3) won 4-1 at Ridder Arena Saturday and 5-1 Friday to complete the first round sweep in the WCHA playoffs over No. 6 St. Cloud State (8-20-5) and move on to the Final Faceoff against Ohio State.

“We want to guarantee ourselves an opportunity to get into the [NCAA] Tournament,” head coach Brad Frost said. 

According to USCHO’s PairWise rankings, Minnesota would be the last team in the NCAA Tournament if the season ended Saturday.

Minnesota entered the third period on Saturday with a two-goal lead. Forward Grace Zumwinkle added to that lead with just one minute left in the game, scoring an empty-netter and the fourth goal for the Gophers. 

Goaltender Sidney Peters ended with 25 saves on the night, her only slip-up coming when St. Cloud tied the score with just 2:38 into the game.  

Nicole Schammel, in both games during the first round of the playoffs, came up with timely goals. 

On Friday night, she scored the first goal of the game in the second period that sparked Minnesota, as they ended with five goals. On Saturday, Schammel helped put the game out of reach for the Huskies. She has scored 16 goals this season and has filled a role that was left empty because of the Winter Olympics.

“Schammel has stepped into a role that I don’t think she knew she was going to be in at the start of the year,” Peters said. “Her heart is in it, she believes in us and right now that is what leadership looks like on our team.”

Schammel extended the Gophers lead to two goals in the second period.

“I think we are a really fast team and, the way we skate with the puck, we are really dangerous,” Schammel said. “We got pucks to the net and got some dirty goals that really helped.”

The Gophers will take on Ohio State in the semifinal next weekend. The second-seeded Buckeyes swept Mankato State over the weekend to advance to the Final Faceoff. The Gophers have been swept by the Buckeyes twice this season, most recently on the road in Columbus. 

“It’s been real hard for us to handle them this year, we have been up on them and we haven’t been able to finish,” Frost said. “Hopefully we get another opportunity to be up and get the job done.”