MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota bounced back from an overtime loss on Friday night with a 5-2 victory versus North Dakota on Saturday.
Sarah Erickson represented the class of seven seniors well, scoring twice and adding an assist in front of 2,157 fans.
“It’s very nice to get two goals on Senior Night,” Erickson said. “You go through the ups and downs of hockey, and there are some times when you don’t score for five, six games, and it’s not very fun. When you’re on a little slide like this, it’s pretty nice.”
Junior defenseman Megan Bozek and sophomore forward Amanda Kessel each contributed a goal and three assists.
Minnesota (27-5-2, 21-5-2-1 WCHA) took a two-goal lead in the second period. After an apparent goal by Sarah Davis was called back when it was determined she had played the puck above the crossbar, the Gophers got it back when Bozek found another gear, carried up the ice, and slid the puck over to Kessel, who beat Stephanie Ney high on the glove side at 8:01.
“What started that was that goal that was called off at the beginning of the period,” Bozek said. “I didn’t want to get fired up about that. I think our team just came together like we know how to play and just took it from there.”
Just over two minutes later, Erickson got her second goal of the day. She let fly a seemingly harmless wrist shot from long range, but the puck glanced off of Monique Lamoureux-Kolls as she attempted to defend Jen Schoullis in front of the net and redirected past Ney, and the Gophers had a 3-1 lead.
“I was trying to get a dump in, and I was going to dump it in the corner, and I saw Jen in front for maybe a tip, and it went off [Lamoureux-Kolls'] butt end, so it’s a little karma for her,” Erickson said.
Bozek got a goal of her own on the power play 19 seconds into the third, taking a cross-ice feed from Erickson on the back door and slipping the puck into the net before Ney could slide across to make the score 4-1.
“It’s all about simple movement, skating, dumping it in,” Bozek said. “They’re a gritty team and we know that. It’s kind of hard for us when we take penalties, and same with them, so we knew it was going to be a back-and-forth game. Definitely the simple things are what’s going to win hockey games here.”
Junior Becky Kortum scored her first goal in a year on home ice, and Josefine Jakobsen, Friday night’s hero, answered for the Fighting Sioux.
North Dakota (20-10-3, 16-9-3-2 WCHA) was in penalty trouble much of the night, committing 12 penalties for 35 minutes, including a major and game misconduct to Monique Weber for a check from behind.
“We have to adjust to be a little smarter,” North Dakota coach Brian Idalski said. “The penalties were kind of ridiculous. We have to take ownership of that and we have to adjust to the way things are being called and not let our emotions get the best of us in certain situations.”
The teams traded goals in period one.
Erickson struck first, banging home a centering pass from Kessel just as a Minnesota five-on-three power play expired and both Lamoureux sisters were attempting to get back into play from the penalty box.
Jocelyne Lamoureux got free in the slot on a UND power play and found the top of the net to knot the score. At that point, North Dakota looked to be in good shape, being even despite being shorthanded for more than half of the frame and down two skaters for a full two minutes.
“We felt really good,” said Sioux forward Michelle Karvinen, who assisted on the Sioux’s first goal. “We worked really hard to get through all the penalties and that we get out even at the end of period was kind of a little win for us.”
North Dakota gained a split despite not holding a lead on the ice at any point of the weekend.
“These two games this weekend have for sure raised the level,” Karvinen said. “It was definitely playoff games, if you ask me. It was a lot of fun to play and both teams competed really hard. It was a lot of fun to be out there. It’s good preparation for the playoffs.”
Still, UND would have liked more.
“We keep talking about how we’ve established ourselves and we’re good,” Idalski said. “Great teams sweep, great teams find a way to win hockey games, and we’re still striving for that, and we’re still working on it.”
Noora Räty made 19 saves in earning her 26th win of the season, a new program record.
Senior Alyssa Grogan, who has been unable to play for 16 months due to recurring symptoms from a concussion, played the final ten seconds in the Gophers’ goal.
“They’re the hardest working, grittiest, most competitive bunch that we’ve had as a group and we’re going to miss them dearly, but they just showed the leadership tonight and came through when we needed them to,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said of his seniors.
Both teams now turn their attention to the postseason. North Dakota will host Bemidji State for a best-of-three WCHA quarterfinal.
“We know exactly what we’re getting out of Bemidji and it’s not going to be easy,” Idalski said. “It’s going to be another physical game like this. I have the utmost respect for Bemidji. That’s going to be a tough, tough series, and we’ve got to regroup, take care of ourselves physically and mentally, and get ready for that series.”
Minnesota entertains St. Cloud State.
“We talked about this being the new season,” Frost said. “We’ve done a good job up to this point, but now that’s over and that’s just seeding us as we go forward. I’m very excited about seeing the team play this next weekend.”