MINNEAPOLIS — Everything seems to be working for Minnesota right now.
Freshman Megan Wolfe started at forward for the first time and scored the first two goals in her college career as the top-ranked Gophers (13-0-0, 11-0-0-0 WCHA) took down No. 4 North Dakota 6-1.
“It was really fun, a good experience, and I’m glad I got the first two against North Dakota,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe’s linemates, Rachael Bona and Hannah Brandt, set her up for consecutive tap-in goals early in the second period.
“We realized that the goalie cheats a little bit to our side, so we just kept a girl back door and communicated,” Wolfe said.
Those goals almost didn’t happen for Wolfe on the Brandt line.
“After the first period, Meghan Lorence was feeling pretty good,” Gophers’ coach Brad Frost said. “She’s been dinged up for the last couple of weeks and I was thinking about getting her more of an opportunity in Wolfe’s spot. Then Wolfe scores that first one and then I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I should move her back.’ Then she scores another one and we’re like, ‘Okay, we’ll just keep her up there for today.”
On the first, Brandt collected her 100th point at Minnesota, but as the play was also Wolfe’s first Gopher goal, Brandt didn’t get the souvenir puck and had to settle instead for the puck from her own third-period goal and point No. 102.
“That first goal, Rachael Bona made an amazing pass on her backhand and pretty much gave her that one,” Brandt said.
Brook Garzone scored when Sarah Davis stepped around the North Dakota center off of an offensive zone draw and found her waiting at the far post and Rachel Ramsey threaded a shot into the top of the net from the blue line to give Minnesota a 5-0 lead by the second intermission.
“I think our team was excited to get back home,” Frost said. “We haven’t been home a whole lot here in the first half, so to be able to be back and play in front of our home crowd was pretty big against a good opponent.”
Attendance for the game was 1,915.
Kelly Terry scored the only goal of the first period. After a Minnesota power play had ended, she flew up the ice and split the defense, faked Shelby Amsley-Benzie out of position and slid the puck into the empty goal.
“I think Kelly Terry set the tone for us early with that highlight-reel goal,” Frost said. “More importantly, it was just her speed and in my opinion, that was the difference tonight. Our team speed overall was tremendous. We put a lot of pressure on them, in particular in the second period there to blow it open.”
North Dakota falls to 8-2-1, 6-2-1-1 in the WCHA.
Sophomore goaltender Amanda Leveille had an assist on Terry’s goal, but she stood out in her more traditional role, recording 34 saves in earning the win.
“It’s a lot easier, I find, when you’re getting shots constantly,” Leveille said. “When I play games like St. Cloud [State] and you don’t get a lot of shots, you kind of get cold.”
North Dakota had the edge in shots for the game, 35-30, including a 14-8 margin in the final period, but only a third-period effort by Meghan Dufault found the net.
“I didn’t feel like they dominated us like the scoreboard says, but our second period has been our weakest period, and we’ve been working on that, playing a full 60 minutes,” UND freshman defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak said. “I didn’t feel like they were ahead of us 6-1. They got some good bounces and they capitalized on them. They’re a really good club.”
North Dakota gets another shot at the WCHA leader when the teams conclude their series Sunday at 2:07 p.m. CST at Ridder Arena.
“The D-zone was a lot different than what we’re used to,” North Dakota rookie defenseman Gracen Hirschy said. “They cycle the puck really well and you have to make sure you play man on man. I think that’s something we haven’t seen before until today, but I think we’ll go at it tomorrow a lot better and a lot different.”