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UMN women’s hockey edged out for WCHA title

Despite sweeping St. Thomas this weekend, Minnesota was unable to pass Ohio State for first place in the conference.
Image by Ethan Fine
Captain Taylor Heise is returning for her fifth season as a Gopher.

The Gophers traveled to Mendota Heights on Friday to face off against St. Thomas with hopes of passing the Ohio Buckeyes in the standings.

Heading into Friday, Ohio State held a 3-point advantage over Minnesota in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings.

Feb. 17 at St. Thomas:

On Friday, Minnesota squared off against seventh place St. Thomas on the road. The last time these two teams met, the Gophers swept St. Thomas at home during their series in January.

The game was deadlocked through the first two periods.

St. Thomas goaltender Saskia Maura kept her team in the game, stopping 36 shots during the first 40 minutes of play. Nicole Vallario finally opened the scoring for the Tommies three minutes into the third period with an unassisted tally.

Minnesota’s Taylor Heise responded about a minute later with her 24th goal of the season.

The two teams went into overtime. Abbey Murphy scored midway through the extra frame to win the game, capitalizing on a two-on-one. Murphy’s goal was her fifth game-winning goal of the season to put Minnesota over St. Thomas 2-1.

Feb. 18 at St. Thomas:

Minnesota looked to complete their second sweep versus St. Thomas this season on Saturday.

Before the game on Saturday, Minnesota trailed Ohio State by 2 points in the standings. Ohio State fell to Wisconsin in overtime during their first game of the weekend, setting Minnesota up for a chance to reclaim first place.

Though the Gophers won the night before, the win came in overtime, giving them 2 points instead of the 3 they would have earned with a regulation win. A regulation win would have allowed Minnesota to only be 1 point behind first place in the standings.

Standings aside, Minnesota had a game to play Saturday night.

Abigail Boreen opened the scoring for Minnesota midway through the first period. She scored again in the second period to give the Gophers a 3-1 lead.

Boreen’s second goal of the game served as the game-winner as St. Thomas would score early in the third period to bring the score to 3-2.

Abbey Murphy inserted the dagger with a third period tally to help the Gophers complete the sweep over St. Thomas with a 4-2 win.

In a press release, head coach Brad Frost said, “we’re proud of our group for how they competed and persevered” against St. Thomas over the weekend.

Minnesota dominated offensively in both games, recording more than 50 shots in both games.
With their sweep over St. Thomas, the Gophers temporarily held first place by a margin of 1 point.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 3-1 in the second game of their series on Sunday, reclaiming first place in the WCHA.

The Gophers finished the 2022-23 WCHA regular season with a 23-3-3 record, enough for second place in the conference.

“Now it’s time to turn the page and head into the playoffs,” Frost said.

The Gophers’ weekend in Mendota Heights would be a preview of what the first round of the WCHA playoffs will look like; Minnesota will host St. Thomas at Ridder Arena on Friday, Saturday and potentially Sunday.

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