The Minnesota Golden Gophers got a championship performance from the “Pots and Pan” line of Sarah and Amy Potomak and Kelly Pannek and defeated the Princeton Tigers 5-2 in a NCAA Quarterfinal at Ridder Arena Saturday afternoon. With the win Minnesota advances to the NCAA Frozen Four for the seventh time in eight seasons! Minnesota will play the Cornell Big Red in a NCAA Semifinal next Friday in Hamden, Connecticut.
One of the keys of the game for Minnesota was going to be trying to stop the nations top scoring line for Princeton. Sarah Fillier led the nation in scoring and had scored 20 goals and added 35 assists heading into Saturday’s game. Add 42 points from Maddie Connors who returned to the lineup after missing the Tiger’s ECAC semifinal game against Cornell, and another 42 points from Carly Bullock split evenly with 21 goals and 21 assists and the Gophers had a challenge. That was tested early as Fillier put Princeton up 1-0 just 5:26 into the game.
Minnesota regrouped and it was the Pots and Pan line that led the charge. Less than two minutes later Sarah Potomak would tie the game at 1 on a short angle shot that just barely squirted through Princeton goalie Stephanie Neatby’s pads. Both Pannek and Amy Potomak would record assists on the goal.
It would remain tied at one for most of the rest of the first period until the Pots and Pan line struck once again. Amy Potomak would be the goal scorer this time as she roofed a rebound in front past Neatby to put Minnesota up 2-1 with 1:55 to play in the first period. Pannek would record her second assist on the game and Sarah Potomak would add one as well. The score would hold ad the Gophers took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
The lead would not hold for long as Fillier once again struck just 2:43 into the second period. It would end up being the only goal of the period. Minnesota appeared to have taken a 3-2 lead on a goal by Amy Potomak midway through the second, but the goal was reversed upon replay on goalie interference. Both teams had other great chances but could not get a puck past either goalie. Thus the teams went to the second intermission tied at two.
The third period had a feeling of whomever could score first would take all the momentum and run with it. Princeton would have the first crack as Pannek was called for hooking just 1:38 into the third period. The referees had been letting anything go during the first two periods...including the same infraction Pannek got whistled for. It would put the Tiger’s #1 in the nation power play on the ice. However, the Gophers were up to the challenge and even had two great shorthanded looks in killing off the man advantage.
It remained 2-2 until Pannek would strike with 8:13 left in the third. Sarah Potomak and Pannek came into the Tiger zone on a 2-1. Pannek fed Potomak who lost the puck trying to shoot, but ended up putting the puck right back on Pannek’s stick who put the puck into the wide open net to give the Gophers a 3-2 lead!
Princeton would have a few late flurries around the Minnesota goal but Minnesota goalie Sydney Scobee stood tall and kept all the potential tying chances out of the net. Minnesota put the nail in the coffin when Sarah Potomak scored on an empty net goal from her own blue line with 1:06 left in the game to put the Gophers up 4-2.
Leave no doubt. pic.twitter.com/Uh7Wr1IN0C— Minnesota Women’s Hockey (@GopherWHockey) March 16, 2019
Nicole Schammel added a second empty net goal with 13.9 seconds left to make it 5-2 and the party was on at Ridder Arena!
With the win Minnesota advances to their seventh Frozen Four in eight seasons. Only last season did the Gophers not advance to the Frozen Four after a quarterfinal loss to Wisconsin. The Gophers will now try and defeat Cornell who upset #3 seed Northeastern 3-2 in overtime earlier Saturday afternoon. The other semifinal will pit #1 seed Wisconsin who defeated Syracuse 4-0 against two-time defending NCAA Champion and #4 seed Clarkson. The Green Knights defeated Boston College 2-1 in overtime.
With Minnesota, Clarkson and Wisconsin all at the Frozen Four the last eight NCAA champions will be represented. Wisconsin won the title in 2011, Minnesota in 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016, and Clarkson in 2014, 2017, and 2018. UMD was the last team other than those three to win a title in 2010. That season they defeated....Cornell.
The exact game time for Friday night has not yet been announced but the game will air live on BTN. The two winners advance to the championship game Sunday which will also air live on BTN.