MINNEAPOLIS — A day after getting production from everyone, Minnesota went back to a recipe that has been its bread and butter all season — ride the Jen Schoullis line to victory.
Schoullis had a point on every Minnesota (12-2-0) goal in a 6-1 defeat of New Hampshire, scoring the eventual game-winner and tying a team record with five assists, a feat last accomplished by Natalie Darwitz during the 2004-05 season.
“It was fun,” Schoullis said. “Yesterday was fun as well; almost everyone was on the board. Tonight, the puck seemed to find my stick and a lot of people found the back of the net for me.”
One was left wing Amanda Kessel. A day after potting four goals, Kessel slumped to a mere hat trick.
“I think seven goals on the weekend just shows how talented of a player she is, a team player at that,” junior defenseman Megan Bozek said. “Happy to have her on my team and not against us.”
Bozek contributed a goal and an assist, as the Gophers defense frequently joined the rush.
“It’s been an emphasis for us all year to get our ‘D’ to jump in there, and nobody does it better than ‘Boz,’” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said.
Defenseman Mira Jalosuo also scored for Minnesota, while sophomore Maggie Hunt converted on a power play for the only goal on the weekend for the Wildcats (4-8-2).
While her linemates racked up the points, Sarah Erickson filled a number of roles on the Minnesota top line, including squaring off with a UNH player after a hit on a teammate that she felt crossed the line.
“Sarah is one of the best leaders I can think of,” Schoullis said of her right wing. “She doesn’t take any crap from anybody. I think she was sticking up for Brausen in the corner, and that’s what we need.”
On the opposing side, the Wildcats made some visible strides from Friday’s thumping.
“I think it just comes with the comfort of playing another game at Ridder Arena,” Frost said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be an 11-0 score here today. Their goalies played better, they did a nice job competing, and battling, and weren’t giving us as much space as they did yesterday.”
Moe Bradley played the final two periods in the UNH net, stopping 29 of 32 shots that she saw, after starter Jenn Gilligan saved 17 of 20.
New Hampshire coach Brian McCloskey moved junior Kristine Horn from forward back to the blue line in a move that reminded him of a similar position change out of necessity in 2008 versus Wisconsin, when he converted Courtney Birchard to defense.
“I found some things out that I think will make us a lot more competitive in our league,” he said.
“Jen Schoullis, Kessel, and Erickson, if there’s a better line in the country, those kids are as clever as they come,” McCloskey said. “That’s as strong a team as we’ve seen this year, by a big margin.”
Painful as absorbing two losses in the series may be, the New Hampshire coach expects dividends down the road from the experience.
“There’s no way we can play a team of that caliber and not get better — that made us better.”
The Wildcats return home next weekend to host single games with Maine and Princeton.
Minnesota heads to Boston, a city that has been unkind to the team in recent years, as they have gone winless on their previous three trips to the area.
“This is a different team than any other team we’ve had in the past,” Bozek said. “I think this is our year to show a statement of all out east teams that the Midwest has some pretty good teams, also.