DULUTH, Minn. — Minnesota got scoring from all three lines in winning the first game of its weekend series versus Minnesota-Duluth by a 4-0 score.
Gophers’ coach Brad Frost said it’s all about depth for the defending national champions this year.
“That’s what makes us dangerous,” Frost said. “I don’t think we have a true first line. It’s kind of a different hero each night.”
Four different players found the net and junior wing Meghan Lorence was the only player with a multi-point game, assisting on the first goal and scoring the second for the Gophers (5-0-0, 3-0-0-0 WCHA).
“I think tonight was probably her best game as a Gopher, quite frankly,” Frost said.
Minnesota has now won eight straight games in AMSOIL Arena, including the WCHA and NCAA championship games in 2012, Lorence’s rookie season.
“We’ve had some good memories in this building,” Lorence said. “It’s always nice coming back here, which you don’t really hear that often going on the road.”
Minnesota sophomore goaltender Amanda Leveille recorded 26 saves in earning her second straight shutout.
Minnesota-Duluth goalie Kayla Black made 36 stops for the Bulldogs (2-2-1, 0-2-1-0 WCHA).
“I thought Kayla had a good game, even though it was 4-0,” UMD coach Shannon Miller said. “I thought Kayla played well.”
Senior Sarah Davis started the scoring for Minnesota from just outside the crease by converting a centering pass from Bethany Brausen 15 minutes into play.
“I think it was Brausen and Lorence on the face off,” Davis said. “I just kind of stood there and managed to get a stick on it and it went in.”
The scored stayed 1-0 until nine seconds into the third period when Lorence picked up a loose puck and her initial shot eluded Black.
“I think it hit both pipes and then it landed right on my stick, which is very lucky for me,” Lorence said. “It was kind of a relief when it landed right on my stick [and] I knew I had to bury it home. Usually, the bounces don’t go our way, but luckily, I buried that one.”
There was a delay of several minutes after the play as referee David Spivey injured his shoulder and had to leave the game.
The Gophers upped the lead to three goals with 9:16 remaining. Freshman Dani Cameranesi got her stick on a Rachel Ramsey shot and deflected into the net for her first collegiate goal. Rookie defenseman Megan Wolfe got her first point at Minnesota on the play.
Rachael Bona made it 4-0 with a shot under the bar from the slot for her team-leading fifth goal.
“We played well,” Miller said. “We did make some mistakes. We backed off on our forecheck when we really needed to step up and keep the heat on.”
The Davis line got the first two crucial goals to gain a lead and expand it.
“I think the strongest point for our line is we’re always kind of buzzing the other team,” Lorence said. “We just kind of get under their skin a little bit. If we use that to our advantage, it’s bound to pay off. Luckily, we were playing together last year, so that’s a big advantage for us just to have the chemistry going.”
That unit has come up big before, including the overtime game winner in the team’s national semifinal win over Boston College last spring.
“People think we’re not really a goal-scoring line,” Davis said. “We’re kind of like the hard-working, backcheck, forecheck and get off the ice, but we wanted to make a statement this weekend that we can contribute as well and I think we did that.”
After being outshot 27-13 over the first 40 minutes, UMD stayed even with the guests with 13 shots apiece in the last period despite being outscored by three in that frame.
Each team was unsuccessful on both of its power-play opportunities.
“There’s no panic,” Miller said. “We played well tonight.”
The series concludes with a 6:07 p.m. CST game on Saturday.
“UMD always has a good program,” Davis said. “We know that they’re very well-coached. We expect the best from them every time we’re out here. They have some very skilled players, so we just got to be aware of them.”