MINNEAPOLIS — Nine different Gophers scored goals and 15 had points as Minnesota completed a sweep of a nonconference series over visiting Princeton, 9-1.
“They’re incredibly strong,” Tigers coach Jeff Kampersal said. “Sometimes, it just seemed like a tidal wave.”
His team wanted to play a better game after struggling at times in Saturday’s opener. Meanwhile, Minnesota (17-1-0, 11-1-0 WCHA) wanted to come out of the gates better than it did the previous day. The hosts won that battle of wills, as they did for much of the weekend.
“We didn’t play our best in the first period yesterday, so we really wanted to make a statement today,” senior Sarah Davis said. “I think we did that, just keeping it simple. The main thing was to forecheck, and I think that really worked for us today.”
Davis took a pass from Rachel Ramsey and finished on a quick rush in transition 2:28 into the game.
“I got kind of lucky, just tried to shove the puck toward the net because I was getting pressured, and the rebound just happened to be on my stick, so I just put it in,” Davis said.
The Gophers smelled blood at that point.
“Even though we didn’t score the first shift or two, you could tell the momentum was in our favor,” coach Brad Frost said. “The kids were up on their toes, and that was a huge start for us.”
Meghan Lorence banged in a Kate Schipper centering pass from behind the net two minutes later. With 13 minutes gone, Hannah Brandt and Milica McMillen scored 10 seconds apart to make it 4-0.
“They come at you in waves,” Kampersal said. “You have to keep battling, almost play perfect.”
The Tigers (5-6-2, 4-4-1 ECAC) didn’t get their first shot until the final minute of an opening period in which they were outshot, 18-1. To their credit, play evened up considerably from that point.
“The score wasn’t indicative completely, because I thought we had more fight in the second and third period,” Kampersal said. “And I thought we actually played better in the second and third period today, but it was more lopsided on the score.”
After Baylee Gillanders converted the rebound of a Davis shot to increase the lead to 5-0, Brianna Leahy put Princeton on the scoreboard for the first time in the series at 12:23 of the middle period. For a change, it was a Tiger alone in front with net to shoot at as she converted a second chance off of a Sally Butler rebound.
It looked like the visitors would be able to go to the locker room having played an even frame, but captain Bethany Brausen scored her second goal in as many days to push the gap back to five.
“That last goal with 10 seconds [left] was like a slap in the face,” Kampersal said. “That sent us back in the tailspin.”
In the final period, Maryanne Menefee followed her own shot and picked a top corner, Kelsey Cline walked in from the point, took a Rachael Bona pass and finished, and Kelly Terry completed the scoring off a feed from Brausen.
Bona wound up with three assists, while Davis and Brandt added two helpers to their goals.
Shyler Sletta played the final period in relief of winning goaltender Amanda Leveille.
“It was nice to get Shyler in there,” Frost said. “For her to actually see some shots — we put her in last weekend, but didn’t see a shot, so tonight she got a number of them.”
Minnesota finished with a 53-20 advantage in shots on goal.
Both teams return to conference action next weekend. The Gophers travel to Ohio State, and Princeton hosts Rensselaer and Union.
“Our last five games were Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Quinnipiac, Minnesota, Minnesota, so we just hit the iron of our schedule,” Kampersal said. “But it’s good for us; it’ll be good for us down the stretch.”