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Abbey Murphy continues to lead as Gopher women’s hockey sweeps St. Cloud

Murphy has a significant lead in team scoring after adding two goals in the series sweep over St. Cloud.
Image by University of Minnesota Athletics (courtesy)
Abbey Murphy takes a shot against St. Cloud State.

The Gophers women’s hockey are 10-2-0 after sweeping the St. Cloud State Huskies in a home-and-home style series this weekend.

Minnesota claimed the first game of the series 1-0 at St. Cloud on Friday night. Redshirt junior forward Abbey Murphy had the lone goal and the game-winner in the 2nd period.

Murphy tied her career-high goals with her 29th goal of the season in a 5-1 win at Ridder Arena on Saturday.

Before she tied her record, Murphy said she did not pay much attention to her goal total.

“I really don’t even look at that stuff until someone tells me about it,” Murphy said. “All I really want to do is win in the end.”

Murphy’s two goals over the weekend put her 18 goals ahead of the next closest players, Josefin Bouveng, Ella Huber and Peyton Hemp who are tied at 11 goals.

Last season, when the Gophers had players like Taylor Heise and Grace Zumwinkle, the scoring distribution was not as spread out. By the end of the season, Heise led the team with 30 goals, Murphy with 29 goals and Zumwinkle with 25 goals.

“It’s different,” Murphy said. “Obviously we were able to score so many goals. They were really good leaders and had so much skill.”

New and second-year players Emma Kreisz, Ava Lindsay, Bouveng and Nelli Laitinen have moved into Minnesota’s top scorers this season.

Lindsay scored an empty net goal in the second win versus St. Cloud, while Kreisz, Bouveng and Laitinen each tallied one assist.

Gophers captain and junior forward Hemp said Bouveng has especially played well this season.
“People have really stepped up and filled in those gaps,” Hemp said. “It’s been really cool to see.”

Bouveng’s assist over the weekend was a cross-ice pass to Huber who scored the game-winning goal on Saturday.

Murphy said she is excited to watch the young players develop and that their group has a lot of skill. One attribute she called attention to was Kreisz’s shot.

“When that [shot] comes off, I hope no one is blocking that thing,” Murphy said.

Head coach Brad Frost said Laitinen is one of the best defenders in the WCHA.

“She is so consistent,” Frost said. “We know exactly what we’re going to get from her.”

In the Gophers’ five losses this season, Murphy scored in one. The only Minnesota loss Murphy has scored in was on Oct. 27 when she scored twice in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Gophers have not won a game against the Buckeyes this season. In their latest series at Ridder Arena on Jan. 12 and 13, Ohio State outscored Minnesota 13-1 in the two losses.

Graduate defender Madeline Wethington said the losses in the Ohio State series helped the Gophers realize what they needed to improve on by the end of the season.

“We’re looking back and saying, ‘Okay it’s January, thank God it’s not March,’” Wethington said. “We have time to improve and get better. Using every opportunity–we can’t take it for granted.”

Following the St. Cloud series, Frost said the Gophers had not been playing to the best of their abilities despite winning six games.

“It was the dog days of January, of winter, so to speak,” Frost said.

Frost said their final three series of the season against St. Cloud, Wisconsin and Minnesota Duluth are when the team needs to work on playing consistently.

“We haven’t accomplished anything quite yet,” Frost said.

According to U.S. College Hockey Online’s NCAA percentage index, the Gophers are projected to be the fourth seed in the NCAA tournament after their series versus St. Cloud. Ahead of Minnesota in third place in the index is their next opponent, Wisconsin.

The Gophers travel to Madison, Wisconsin, next weekend with a chance to surpass the Badgers in both the national rankings and the WCHA standings.

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