The #2 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s hockey team returned to action after a more than three week layoff due to the holiday break and oponent COVID postponements on Thursday night, and looked rusty as expected. It took a pair of third period Grace Zumwinkle goals, but it was enough for Minnesota to defeat St. Cloud State 2-1 and move to 6-1 on the season.
Minnesota planned to kick off the 2021 portion of their schedule last weekend, but their scheduled series against Minnesota-Duluth was postponed after the Bulldogs had COVID issues with their roster. Instead Minnesota has to wait a extra few days and added a third game to what was originally a home and home series against St. Cloud this weekend to try and make up one game of a rapidly shrinking season.
Minnesota looked a bit sluggish to open the game Thursday night. They had their full roster for the first time all season as junior Amy Potomak returned to the lineup for the first time this year after recovering from a leg injury.
The Gophers would fall down 1-0 late in the second period when the Huskies struck on the power play. Catie Skeja went into the box for Minnesota for hooking and Minnesota gaave up a power play goal for the first time this season as Olivia Cvar put a puck past Lauren Bench.
Minnesota struck back quickly in the third period as Zumwinkle scored her first of the night unassisted just 1:41 into the period. With 6:35 left in the game Zumwinkle made ot Grace 2, Huskies 1 with a gorgeous wrister on a feed from Anne Cherkowsi. That’s how the game would finish, and Minnesota would win their 15th in a row against SCSU.
It was the 100th game all time between the two schools and Minnesota now has a 94-3-3 all time record aginst St. Cloud. Minnesota has never lost at Ridder Arena going 45-0-2 over a stretch that dates back to 1997. The two teams will continue with thier regularly schedule home and home series this weekend with Minnesota hosting again on Saturday at 4 PM, and the two teams headed up I-94 on Sunday to play at the National Hockey Center at 3PM on Sunday.
Minnesota will see their schedule step up in difficulty in a hurry as they head to Madison to play the #1 ranked Badgers next week before a bye week followed by a trip to current #3 Ohio State.