Road sweep over St. Cloud State re-energizes Minnesota

Two Gophers players netted their first career goals in the two away games.

Forward Nicole Schammel skates against Lindenwood Lions on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 at Ridder Arena. The Gophers won the season-opening game 3-0 against the Lions.

Image by Chelsea Gortmaker, Daily File Photo

Forward Nicole Schammel skates against Lindenwood Lions on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 at Ridder Arena. The Gophers won the season-opening game 3-0 against the Lions.

by Tommy Sletten

After finding themselves in more of a rut than they’re used to, the Gophers found a way to sail with an away sweep against St. Cloud State.

Minnesota won Friday’s game 2-1, though head coach Brad Frost said it wasn’t their best showing.

“Quite frankly, I didn’t think our team played as well as we normally do,” Frost said. “We were flat, for one reason or another, but certainly happy to win and get those three points.”

No. 4 Minnesota (19-5-3, 15-4-3 WCHA) opened, scoring in the first period with a goal from freshman forward Kippin Keller — the first of her career.

The Huskies (7-18-3, 5-15-2 WCHA) tied the game in the second period, but forward Nicole Schammel saved the Gophers from defeat with a third period goal for the 2-1 win.

Senior defenseman Megan Wolfe was the playmaker of the day and assisted both goals.

The game featured the return of junior goaltender Sidney Peters between the pipes, as last week’s starter, sophomore Emma May, did not dress due to illness.

Peters made 12 saves and gave up only one goal.

The second game saw a definite resurgence of form for the Gophers, who won the tilt 5-0 contest with 55 shots on goal.

“We came out together and tried to get as many shots as we could, and the bounces went our way today,” said sophomore forward Sarah Potomak.

Held scoreless through the first period, Minnesota’s offense exploded in the second and third and scored five unanswered goals and shut out St. Cloud on its home ice.

The team played with a new sense of energy and fire, one that had not been seen in many weeks for the team.

“I thought tonight might have been one of our best games of the season,” Frost said. “From an effort, energy, and execution standpoint, some players with their first goals as Gophers this weekend … Overall, really happy about the six points.”

Potomak sparked the scoring five minutes into the second period with her 15th goal of the season and then assisted sophomore forward Taylor Williamson’s goal less than three minutes later.

Schammel wrapped up the second period with her second goal of the series, bringing the score to 3-0.

Senior defenseman Lee Stecklein scored next for Minnesota after posting two assists prior. The captain ended with three points on the night.

Sophomore forward Tianna Gunderson scored her first goal in a Gophers uniform in the third period, which was the last tally of the game for the 5-0 final.

Peters had 12 saves in her seventh shutout of the season.

This series was a huge step forward for Minnesota after being swept by Minnesota-Duluth and dropping points against Ohio State in its previous two weekends.

The sweep gives Minnesota a solid foundation to build on with three regular season series remaining on its schedule, including one with No. 1 Wisconsin.

“We’re going to take it one game at a time,” Potomak said. “The biggest thing for us is to not get too far ahead with playoffs coming up.”