MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Golden Gophers displayed a balanced attack in pulling away from Minnesota State for a 7-0 win and a series sweep in Minneapolis.
Six players and three lines scored a goal for Minnesota (7-1-0, 5-1-0 WCHA), led by Sara Erickson with two. A dozen different Gophers registered a point; Amanda Kessel was tops with three coming on a goal and two assists.
“We played much better last night than we did tonight,” coach Brad Frost said. “The pucks happened to go in tonight, and they didn’t last night.”
Stephanie Anderson supplied the only goal that Minnesota would ultimately need at 5:35 of the opening period, burying a shot from the slot for her first career goal.
“It felt really good,” the freshman wing said. “I didn’t even know it went in at first until everyone came towards me. It was kind of a surprise.”
With her goal, every member of the Gophers’ top three forward lines has at least one.
“It took Steph eight games here, but she finally got on the board,” coach Brad Frost said. “I think that’s just really big for their confidence. You see Lorence and Bona, they’re playing a little more free right now, too, already having that first goal in the net.”
The Gophers also got goals from Emily West, Kelly Terry, and Megan Bozek.
The Mavericks (4-4-0, 0-2-0 WCHA) started better than they did a day earlier, limiting the Gophers to 20 shots through the first two periods after yielding 41 at the same point of Thursday’s contest.
“We were happy as a staff with the way our girls came out and played and responded from last night’s game,” Minnesota State coach Eric Means said.
Minnesota’s lead was only two late in the second period, but the Gophers converted on four consecutive power plays to pull away.
“It rejuvenated us a little bit,” Frost said. “We started moving the puck a little better and kept it on the forehands, which allowed for some lanes, and some good screens, tips, and some great shots from up top.”
Junior Noora Räty returned to the Minnesota net and stopped 19 shots to record her third shutout of the season and the 19th of her career.
“To skate, I got a couple days off,” Räty said. “I was full of energy, and I felt good.
According to Anderson, the veteran netminder isn’t shy about letting newcomers know if they are screening her.
“No, she definitely isn’t,” Anderson said as she laughed. “She’ll scream at you, that’s for sure.”
The Mavericks had their moments in the first period while only down one, particularly on the power play, when Räty’s efforts and some misfortune kept them off the board.
“Their power play is really good,” Räty said. “They move the puck fast and they’ve got some good shots, but luckily, we were able to shut them out.”
MSU entered the weekend averaging 4.5 goals scored per game.
“Until this weekend, we haven’t had any difficulties scoring,” Means said. “Last night, we didn’t put up much effort on Sletta, and today we had some better opportunities, but Räty was good.”
Minnesota hits the road for a series in Bemidji, where they hope to have a second assistant coach for the first time this season.
“It’s unofficially official,” Frost said. “The visa has gone through. Once she lands in the U.S., which will hopefully be next week, it will be more official.”
Minnesota State hosts Ohio State for a pair in Mankato next weekend.
“We can’t worry about this weekend,” Means said. “It’s done, it’s over, we’ve got to move forward. We’ve got things we’ve got to learn, and there’s things that we can take from this weekend that we can build upon.”