MINNEAPOLIS — Junior Meghan Lorence found the net twice tonight as top-ranked Minnesota blanked visiting St. Cloud State 3-0.
“I thought it was a great game, really solid tonight,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “Great energy from the drop of the puck.”
Sarah Davis scored the third goal and Kate Schipper had a pair of assists for the Gophers (23-1-1, 17-1-1-0 WCHA).
Goaltender Amanda Leveille turned in her third consecutive shutout, stopping 15 shots, and now has nine on the year.
The Huskies (4-20-3, 3-16-2-1 WCHA) arrived at the arena later than normal after getting held up in rush-hour traffic worsened by a snowfall. That may have contributed to a slow start, as St. Cloud State mustered only five shots through the first 40 minutes.
“I don’t know if it was because the bus got in late or just because we weren’t ready for that pace,” SCSU coach Jeff Giesen said. “We weren’t ready to go there in the first, at least with our legs. We were there mentally, but not with our legs.”
The weather may have also contributed to a smaller turnout than the announced crowd of 2,157.
Hannah Brandt drove wide, drew the attention of the defense, and then backhanded a pass to Lorence driving the net on the weak side. Lorence had half the net and didn’t miss it, putting the Gophers up 1-0 with 14:51 elapsed.
“I didn’t even know if she saw me,” Lorence said. “I was screaming for it. Sometimes, she doesn’t even look, but she makes a great play anyway. That’s just Hannah for you. I was amazed that I even got the puck because not everyone can see the ice like she does.”
The first period ended that way with Minnesota holding an 18-3 bulge in shots. The Gophers took over the momentum when they had the better scoring chances on the Huskies first power-play opportunity of the night.
“Our power play has been atrocious for a long time,” Giesen said. “Right now, we’re just trying to find different combinations and try to get something going. That’s been one of our downfalls.”
The visitors didn’t register a shot on any of their three chances with the extra skater.
Lorence struck again on a second-period power play, tipping in a Milica McMillen shot.
“Luckily, I was wide-open in front, so she kind of just sent a rocket to me, so I was able to get a stick on it, so that was good,” Lorence said.
Davis gave the Gophers a 3-0 lead when she took a pass from Schipper on a three-on-two rush and fired on net. Huskies’ goaltender Julie Friend got a piece of the puck, but not enough to keep it out of the net.
For Schipper, it was her first multi-point game since November.
“It’s obvious I’ve been struggling to get points, but I think that’s part of the game,” Schipper said. “It’s part of being a freshman. Not everything clicks every time.”
Thanks to Friend, the lion’s share of the Gophers’ chances didn’t click.
“Their goaltender played very well and she’s pretty tough,” Frost said.
Giesen was unsure which one of his goalies is going to start in Saturday’s rematch – Friend, who finished with 44 saves, or Katie Fitzgerald.
“We’re going to talk it over tonight,” he said. “[Friend] has made a lot of saves and played a lot of games. [Fitzgerald] never played badly to get herself out of there, so we’ll talk about it as a staff and see what happens for tomorrow.”
Beyond that, Giesen looks for his team to get its feet moving sooner.
“The longer we can play at 0-0 or get up 1-0, it gives us a little bit of momentum,” Giesen said. “But if you get down, it’s hard to come back on these guys.”
Faceoff is schedule for 7:07 p.m. CST at Ridder Arena.
“We know last time we played these guys in game two, they gave us a scare, so we’ll need to be ready to go here tomorrow,” Frost said.