MINNEAPOLIS — The outcome was fairly routine and predictable as the Minnesota Golden Gophers defeated the St. Cloud State Huskies 6-0 in the WCHA opener for both teams. But along the way there were a few key sequences that had they not gone in favor of the Gophers (3-0, 1-0 WCHA) would have made for a far different contest.
Trailing 1-0 midway through the opening period, the Huskies (1-2, 0-1 WCHA) nearly capitalized on an odd-man rush, but Noora Räty was able to make the initial save and her defense managed to cause a pile up in the crease and get a whistle.
“When the game is 6-0, you forget about the key moments where it wasn’t 6-0,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “Huge save there.”
With their offense fairly stagnant and not generating quality chances, Emily West combined with Kelly Terry for a short-handed goal at 17:19 of the first period that gave Minnesota some insurance with a 2-0 lead.
“We turned it over, and we’re just not as puck savvy as they are,” SCSU coach Jeff Giesen said. “A little bit of nerves and playing a big team like this—that killed us.”
The score stayed that way for nearly 20 minutes until the Gophers broke loose for three goals at the end of the second frame.
“The second period we played 17 minutes and played them even, and then in three minutes the whole tide turns, and then it is out of control from there,” Giesen said.
Tayler VanDenakker did her best to keep things under control, but ultimately her 53 stops in the St. Cloud net weren’t enough.
A few Gophers collected career milestones. Jen Schoullis had a goal and two assists to give her 100 points in her Minnesota career.
“I really had no idea,” Schoullis said. “It’s an achievement. My experience here has been awesome. I’ve always played with great players, and I attribute a lot of my success to them.”
Rookie Meghan Lorence scored her first goal as a Gopher, converting classmate Rachel Bona’s first Minnesota assist.
“It’s definitely a big relief,” Lorence said of getting that first goal out of the way. “We’ve had a lot of chances, my line last weekend and this weekend again. It was finally nice to put it away.”
Räty stopped all 15 shots she saw to get her second straight shutout and 18th in her career.
West got her second of the game during a five-minute penalty assessed for a check from behind, where she was the player hit.
“Taking a year off and having surgery is tough, and I think Jen [Schoullis] knows exactly how it is,” West said. “Having teammates to support you through that and help you get off to a good start is always a good thing.”
Other Gophers with multiple-point efforts were Amanda Kessel with two goals and an assist, and Kelly Terry and Megan Bozek with a pair of assists apiece.
The teams complete their series on Saturday at 4:07 in Ridder Arena.
“Just another day — you’ve got to hope to steal one,” Giesen said. “This is our league.”