Trip to Grand Forks rights Gophers’ ship

Zach Eisendrath

Minnesota’s women’s hockey team was back on the road and back on track this weekend after a two-game sweep over Western Collegiate Hockey Association foe North Dakota.

The fifth-ranked Gophers (11-5-0, 6-4-0 WCHA) headed to Grand Forks after losing consecutive games against fourth-ranked Wisconsin in their last series.

But Minnesota had no trouble snapping that streak against the Fighting Sioux (2-12-2, 0-10-2 WCHA), prevailing 4-0 Friday night and 3-1 Saturday.

On the road for the first time in five weeks, the Gophers once again looked comfortable at their opponent’s rink. The Gophers improved their road record to a superb 6-0-0 mark.

“I’m not sure,” freshman goaltender Kim Hanlon said of why Minnesota has been so successful on the road. “It’s a totally different atmosphere on the road.”

Despite still being winless in WCHA play after the conclusion of the weekend, North Dakota gave the Gophers all they could handle Saturday night.

North Dakota senior forward Aynsley Allen gave North Dakota an early 1-0 lead after she slipped the puck past freshman goaltender Brittony Chartier on the power play at 13:43 into the first period ” her first point of the year.

But the Gophers responded with 1:36 remaining in the period when sophomore Bobbi Ross scored her 12th goal of the season, tying the game at one heading into the second period.

Gophers points-leader Erica McKenzie came through in the clutch for Minnesota when she scored an unassisted goal at 5:18 into the final period, her 14th of the season.

“That was huge,” senior Krista Johnson said of McKenzie’s goal. “Going into the third, we knew we had to get a goal right away.”

After North Dakota pulled their goalie, Jenelle Philipczyk scored an unassisted goal on the empty net to secure the victory.

Friday night, Minnesota used three first period goals, including two within the game’s first four minutes, to seal the Sioux’s fate.

Ross scored a power-play goal at 3:08 into the first when she tipped in Anya Miller’s slap shot attempt.

Just 13 seconds later, senior Krista Johnson scored her first goal of the season ” and her first of two on the night.

Head coach Laura Halldorson said she was pleased with the way Johnson contributed to the victory.

“She got a regular shift, and it was great to see her capitalize on the chances she got,” Halldorson said. “I’m really happy for her.”

Hanlon took over net duties for starter Chartier, and was spectacular. Hanlon stopped all 22 shot attempts she faced. Hanlon is now 2-0 ” both shutouts ” in two career starts.

“I thought she played really well,” Halldorson said of Hanlon. “She’s gaining confidence with her increased playing time lately.”

Although Halldorson admitted there is plenty of work still to be done, she said she was happy her team found a way to capture all four league points.

“We still need to work on playing 60 minutes,” Halldorson said.

“But what I liked about this weekend was our ability to finish games. (Saturday) when it came down to the wire, I liked the way we finished.”