MINNEAPOLIS — Senior Sarah Davis scored a goal and added two assists to lead Minnesota to a 4-0 win over Minnesota State in the 2014 Hockey City Classic.
“Just an incredible night and wonderful event to be a part of,” coach Brad Frost said. “Very grateful to be a part of it and to be able to come and play outside here at TCF [Bank Stadium] for the first time in about 80 years. I thought our kids played really well here tonight. There’s a lot of distractions and a lot of elements that we weren’t sure what would be out there.”
Rachel Bona had a goal and an assist for the Gophers (21-1-1, 15-1-1-0 WCHA), who also got tallies from Meghan Lorence and Jordyn Burns.
“I think it was just a great experience overall,” Bona said. “Not many people can say they played outdoor hockey at TCF. I’m just really excited we got a chance to be a part of it.”
Amanda Leveille stopped 19 shots in the shutout, while Danielle Butters made 47 stops for the Mavericks (9-16-0, 4-15-0-0 WCHA).
Leveille’s biggest challenge may have been staying warm during long periods of inactivity. According to Bona, the Minnesota goalie took off her equipment during the second intermission and played soccer in the locker room in an attempt to warm up.
“I layered up with a few layers,” Frost said. “Heated benches are nice.”
The players said that breathing the cold air in temperatures approaching single digits was an adjustment.
“It felt like my lungs were bleeding a little bit,” Davis said.
The visitors enjoyed the experience, if not the outcome.
“It was a first-class event that they put on here today,” MSU coach Eric Means said.
“We got a good opportunity to practice here last night, so that was nice,” senior captain Kari Lundberg said. “Wearing a few more layers than usual. The grounds crew did a great job of maintaining the ice. It was very similar to an indoor rink.”
For most, it paid homage to their roots.
“Lot of us growing up as Minnesota-born players, playing the ‘U’ is something that we look forward to,” said Mavericks defenseman Lauren Barnes. “Once that puck drops, the fans are just background noise and you’re here to get the ‘W’. Being from here, you grow up playing in your backyard. You grow up playing youth hockey; your mom is rubbing your toes to get them warm.”
Barnes wouldn’t want it to be an annual occurrence.
“I guess if we played more, once a year, it would take away from how special it was that we were given the opportunity to play today,” she said.
The crowd was announced as 6,320, but at any point, a number of those fans may have been inside Mariucci Arena warming up.
Lorence scored the Gophers’ first outdoor goal 5:24 into the contest. On a power play, Davis got the puck from Bona and fed Lorence on the doorstep.
Despite an 18-7 shot advantage and a 36-10 bulge in attempts, Minnesota was unable to build on its 1-0 lead in the first period.
It looked like Minnesota State would be able to get to the second intermission down only a goal, but Davis found Bona in front for a goal with two minutes left, with the other assist going to Kate Schipper.
“That’s always a little nerve wracking, because one bounce, anything could happen, especially outside,” Bona said. “I wasn’t nervous, but I was thinking to myself, ‘Okay, we need to score a few more goals here.’”
The lead grew to 3-0 on another power-play goal at 19:11 of the second stanza. This time, Davis finished the play on helpers from Kelly Terry and Hannah Brandt.
“It was almost very similar to the second game we had in Mankato,” Means said. “It was a one-goal hockey game, and if we could have got to the third period, then you have a chance at it. They get a couple there late, and that makes the game much more difficult to come back from. Just rally your players’ spirits too, to get them to come out and play hard.”
The Gophers dominated the middle 20 minutes territorially, as evidenced by having 40 shot attempts to 6 for the Mavericks.
“They have a good power play,” Lundberg said. “We need to be tougher in front of the net, clearing out those pucks and those rebounds.”
It was a good night for the Minnesota special teams; the power play converted twice in three chances and the penalty kill got the night off.
“I don’t know the last time we didn’t have a penalty in a game, but obviously, that made a difference,” Frost said.
Burns completed the scoring with 67 seconds left in the game, taking a feed from Paige Haley and sniping a shot past Butters.
The teams complete their series on Sunday at All-Seasons Arena in Mankato.
“It might take a couple of days to sink in and realize how fun that was,” Davis said. “We’re just enjoying the moment right now.”