Gophers split series versus Bulldogs before winter break

Minnesota had four different players enter the scoring column this weekend

The+University+of+Minnesota+women%E2%80%99s+hockey+team+plays+against+Ohio+State+at+Ridder+Arena+on+Nov.+21%2C+2020.+The+Gophers+ended+the+night+with+a+4-0+win.

Emily Urfer

The University of Minnesota women’s hockey team plays against Ohio State at Ridder Arena on Nov. 21, 2020. The Gophers ended the night with a 4-0 win.

by Matthew Kennedy, Sports Reporter

Coming off of a 5-point weekend against rival No. 1 Wisconsin, the Gophers hosted one final homestand versus the No.9 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs before a nearly month-long break in action.

Gophers drop Friday’s game 3-2

Neither team was able to score early on as both goalies and defenses locked down their sides of the ice. Both teams exchanged four penalties throughout the first period and the first half of the second, but no team put the puck behind the back of the net. Shots on goal were in favor of the Gophers 9-5 at the end of the first period.

Catie Skaja broke the scoreless tie with 9:51 left in the second period. Abigail Boreen and Madeline Wethington assisted on the play. Skaja notched her seventh goal of the season as the Gophers went up 1-0. Minnesota finished the period leading the Bulldogs in shots on goal 23-16.

The Bulldogs struck back in the third period as Gabbie Hughes, assisted by Anna Klein, evened the game at one apiece. Not long after, Naomi Rogge gave Duluth the 2-1 lead. Head coach Brad Frost soon took a timeout with 13:06 remaining in the game. The Gophers at this point in the period didn’t have a shot on net.

Both teams soon traded goals as Amy Potomak evened the game back at two with a goal through the 5-hole. The scoring draw didn’t last long as Élizabeth Giguère vaulted the Bulldogs back into the lead. 3-2 would be the final score as Minnesota would fall in game one. Shots on goal were 30-22 Gophers.

“This wasn’t a ‘let down’ game or anything like that,” Frost said. “We missed some assignments on the backdoor and those are things we haven’t been doing since the beginning of the year. We just didn’t do what we needed to do here tonight.”

Gophers win 2-1 Saturday to split series

Unlike on Friday, the scoring started early as Audrey Wethington tipped in a Crystalyn Hengler slapshot to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead 5 minutes into the game. Six minutes later, another Hengler shot missed wide, but the puck fell right into the stick of Peyton Hemp as she found the back of the net to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead over Duluth midway through the first period. The Gophers would put up 17 shots on goal to end the period compared to the Bulldogs’ 6.

“The past couple years our coaches have taught us to use the back wall if we don’t have a shot to the net,” said Hengler. “So this time it worked out in my favor as Payton picked it up for a nice shot.”

The lone goal in the second period was scored by Gabby Krause of Duluth to make the game 2-1 Gophers. The Bulldogs beat out the Gophers in shots on goal during the second period 13-12 but for most of the period, they led by a wide margin. A late Minnesota power play minimized the offensive shot gap heading into the third period. Total shots on goal for the game finished with the Gophers leading 35-25 as neither team could muster a goal in the final period.

“Overall our team had a really long and tough first half of the season but I’m really proud of the way that we played here in the first three months,” said Frost. “We’ve played a lot of top 10 opponents and some really good teams so we’re excited for a little time off.”

The Gophers return to Ridder Arena on Jan. 4 to play an exhibition versus the Minnesota Whitecaps to kick off their second half of the season.