The University of Minnesota Women's Hockey Team began their quest to reach their fourth consecutive NCAA Championship Game with a pair of wins at Ridder Arena this past weekend. The #1 ranked Gophers easily handled Penn State 8-0 on Friday night before coming back to defeat #6 ranked Boston University 5-2 Saturday night.
Friday night Minnesota had six different goal scorers, showing off their depth. Four freshmen made their college debuts, as well did redshirt freshman goalie Sydney Peters. Peters made 15 saves to win her first collegiate game with a shutout. The Gophers got off to a big of a slow start, killing off a penalty before going on the powerplay with 7:30 gone in the first. They didn't waste much time getting their first power play goal of the season as Milica McMillen scored on a shot from the low face-off circle. Her goal was assisted by Rachel Ramsey and Hannah Brandt. Ninety-two seconds later, the Gopher struck again when Dani Cameranesi, last years WCHA Rookie of the Year, deflected a Lee Stecklein cannon from the point past Penn State goalie Celene Whitlinger to make it 2-0 Gophers. That would be how the first period would end.
The Gophers would add three more in the second period as Brandt scored her first goal of the season on a tip-in of a Stecklein shot. McMillen would add her second goal of the game on the power play once again, and Cameranesi would scorer her second of the game to end the second period with the Gophers on top 5-0.
The Third would not be much different as the Gophers would add three more goals. Meghan Lorence started the scoring, followed by freshman Cara Piazza's first collegiate goal. Finally Kelsey Cline would add the final flourish, capping off an 8-0 win, The Gophers finished 4-6 on the power play in the game. Brandt led the Gophers with her three points, and the Gophers got two each from Stecklein, Cameranesi, McMillen, and Rachael Bona.
Saturday night would be a tougher task as the Gophers would play #6 Boston University in a rematch of last season;s NCAA Quarterfinal at Ridder Arena won by the Gophers 5-1. This years game would be nearly the same as Minnesota would win 5-2. The Gophers would excel on special teams in the game going 203 on the power play, and shutting down the potent Boston University Power play going 8-8 on the penalty kill, including two 5x3!
The Gophers jumped out on top in the first period when Lorence got a rebound off of a point shot by Ramsey and put it past the Terrier goalie, Erin O'Neil. That's how the first would end.
Boston University would respond early in the second when Rebecca Leslie put a shot past Gopher goalie Amanda Leveille, who was making her season debut. The Gophers would need to then kill off one of those 5x3 situations as Sydney Baldwin and Cameranesi found themselves in the penalty box. They did kill it off, and less than a minute later Hannah Brandt scored her second goal of the season on a feed from Brook Garzone. After BU then found themselves in a 5x3 situation, the Gophers did not let up as McMillen scored her third goal of the weekend, all on the powerplay to put the Gophers up 3-1. With the second penalty to BU nearly over, Lorence added her third goal of the weekend and Minnesota had control of the game up 4-1. With just over 5:30 to go in the second, Leslie would add her second of the game for BU to cut the Gopher lead to 4-2, but the Gophers would but the final nail in the coffin when Piazza scored her second goal as a Gopher with three seconds left in the second period to put Minnesota up 5-2. Neither team scored in the third, and Minnesota was off to a great start to the season.
The Gophers will not have any rest as they will jump into WCHA play next weekend at UMD. Face-off will be at 6:00 PM both nights in Duluth.