MINNEAPOLIS — When a goaltender plays behind somebody regarded as one of the best in the world, opportunities to start may be few and far between.
Freshman Amanda Leveille from Kingston, Ontario, made the most of her chance, turning aside 21 shots on Saturday to record an 11-0 shutout of Colgate in her first appearance for Minnesota.
“I was so excited to play today,” Leveille said. “I just couldn’t wait to play when I put on the jersey. It was awesome being surrounded by such great people.”
Those people generally took care of business as the Gophers (2-0) romped.
“Very pleased with the game tonight and the effort,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “We did some video before the game and just talked about a few of the things last night that maybe we were lacking in and made those adjustments, and I thought the team responded really, really well.”
Leveille plans to maximize her education this season.
“Noora Räty is the best goaltender in the world, I think,” Leveille said. “It’s perfect for me because I want to develop as a goaltender. Getting to watch her is just fantastic. I’ve learned so much so far. She’s like a mentor.”
At the other end of the ice, Ashlynne Rando did not always receive the best support as she faced 45 shots for the Raiders (0-2).
“The big thing defensively is sometimes we got running around doing other people’s jobs,” Colgate coach Greg Fargo said. “We’ve got to simplify our game and trust that everyone is doing their own job, whether it’s on the breakout, or defensively, or on the forecheck. We tried getting away with some things that we can’t. We learned the hard way. A team like this, they’re going to put it on the scoreboard when you make mistakes.”
For the weekend, nobody was better at changing the scoreboard than Gophers rookie Hannah Brandt. After originally being credited with her second hat trick in as many days, Brandt had to settle for two goals and four assists after Minnesota’s first goal was changed to Amanda Kessel after the game. That added up to a nine-point series for Brandt as she started to validate her choice by the WCHA coaches as the league’s preseason rookie of the year.
“She just puts herself in the right spots, and then when she gets it, she’s just got a fantastic release, great vision as we’ve seen in the first two games, and obviously can score some big goals,” Frost said.
“I’ve just gotten to be in the right place at the right time, I guess,” Brandt said.
When a player like Brandt constantly seems to wind up in the right place, eventually one has to attribute it to something more than luck.
“I think just playing a lot of hockey, I kind of know where to be,” Brandt said. “But at the same time, some of it is lucky. I got set up twice by Rachael Bona today. She made two really nice passes, and I was lucky to be the one that got to put it in.”
Bona finished with four assists while Kessel had two goals and three assists and Meghan Lorence scored twice.
Brandt set up classmate Maryanne Menefee for the first of her two goals and seemed to get more of a thrill from that pass than any of her own tallies.
“I love setting up people, and especially it was nice to see Jordyn [Burns] and Maryanne get their goals today,” Brandt said. “I love seeing other people get their first goals and the smiles on their faces, so that was awesome.”
In addition to Burns, a sophomore transfer from Syracuse, Megan Bozek and Mira Jalosuo had single tallies.
Although overshadowed by Brandt’s fast start, Menefee got off well on the weekend, with two goals and two assists in game two after an assist in the opener.
“To get my first official goal as a Gopher is pretty awesome,” Menefee said. “Every time we score I just love hearing them play the Minnesota song.”
The visitors had far less to celebrate from the opening series.
“It was a learning weekend for us,” Fargo said. “Coming into it, we really had no measuring stick as far as where we’re at. I think this is a weekend that puts it in perspective for us. We liked some things; we didn’t like some things. But we go back, and we’ll get back to work on Monday.”
Colgate returns home for its next four games, hosting No. 9 Northeastern and New Hampshire before a pair with Connecticut.
“Regardless of who we play, I think we’re just going to continue to focus on us in the areas that we need to improve on,” Fargo said. “Regardless of our opponent, we’re going to approach every game the same way. We’ll give it our best shot and try and win those games.”
Minnesota expects to have junior forwards Sarah Davis and Kelly Terry back in its lineup as it hosts St. Cloud State for a WCHA series. The duo missed the Colgate series attending a national team camp for Canada.