MINNEAPOLIS — When the St. Cloud State Huskies defeated Bemidji State 3-0 in their first game of the 2010 postseason, nobody associated with the team could have envisioned that 11 months and 30 games later, they would still be waiting for their next victory.
The Minnesota Gophers (19-7-2 overall, 14-7-2-1 in the WCHA) added another game to the winless streak of the Huskies (0-27-1, 0-22-1-1) with an 8-0 trouncing.
“You can over-analyze it to death; we’re not making very good plays right now,” St. Cloud head coach Jeff Giesen said. “We turned the puck over twice in the first period and they end up in the back of the net. That sets a tone, and then we’re back to where we’ve been in a lot of games.”
Sarah Erickson struck first with a solo effort, stealing the puck just outside her offensive zone, chasing down the puck, and using a back-hand finish before the Husky back check could become a factor.
Amanda Kessel used a theft of her own to double the lead. SCSU goalie Ashley Nixon came out of her net in an attempt to win a race to a loose puck, but Kessel reached the biscuit first and poked it past the keeper and into the vacated goal.
“We had talked about that, how their goalie is aggressive,” Kessel said. “I saw her coming out, so I just had to make one move, and there was an open net.”
Kessel led a balanced Gopher attack with two goals and a pair of primary assists.
“I thought we played okay in the first, but still thought we could raise our game a little more,” Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said.
The Gophers did up their performance, striking early and often in the middle period while boosting the lead to 7-0.
By the end of 40 minutes, every forward on Minnesota’s top two lines had at least one goal and one assist.
“Right now we have bad matchups with everybody we play,” Giesen said. “They’re older, they’re experienced, they’re obviously a lot stronger than us. We’re just not real strong yet – strong on our sticks, strong legs, and that makes a difference in this league.”
Defenseman Mira Jalosuo wrapped up the scoring with a third-period goal on the power play.
“I was able to get everybody on our bench in the game and get some more experience,” said Frost. “Hopefully, this will help us going into tomorrow to carry that momentum on.”
After a winless weekend of their own last weekend in Madison, the Gophers were glad they could immediately get back to winning.
“We didn’t want to get in bad habits,” Minnesota’s Sarah Davis said. “We just tried to play our game the way we usually do. If we’re playing St. Cloud or Wisconsin, we want to play the same.”
“We’re just having fun out there, trying our best, and working hard,” she said.
Obviously, it’s not as much fun these days on the other bench.
“I think we play hard no matter what the score has been,” Giesen said.
At some point, he’d like to see his team’s effort rewarded with a “W”, and their next chance comes in Saturday’s series finale.
“Just clean up the turnovers and play a little smarter with the puck, and keep the puck,” Giesen said. “And obviously, we’ve got to be a little tighter defensively on them.”