MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota advanced to the WCHA semifinals for the 15th straight year with a 7-1 win and a series sweep of St. Cloud State.
“Really happy to win the game here tonight and advance on to the Final Face-Off up in Bemidji,” coach Brad Frost said. “Just proud of the team. We’ve got a great group, and [I'm] really excited to see what next weekend brings.”
Hannah Brandt, the country’s leading scorer, had two goals and two assists, five others had multi-point games, and 13 players found their way into the scoring column for the Gophers (34-1-1, 26-1-1-0 WCHA).
As on Friday, St. Cloud State (4-27-5, 3-21-4-2 WCHA) was able to stay close for half of the game, but the talent of Minnesota eventually proved decisive.
“Obviously, they’re the No. 1 team in the country for a reason,” St. Cloud State coach Jeff Giesen said. “They’re so deep. It doesn’t matter who they bring out there. Those three lines just keep coming at you and they’re all equal. They’ve all got people that can do individual things, and obviously, they work so well together. You can’t take a shift off.”
Kelly Terry scored the first goal midway through the opening period, 17 seconds into the game’s first power play. She collected the carom of Brandt’s shot off of the end boards and tucked it between Julie Friend and the near post for her 17th goal of the season.
Minnesota broke the game open in the second period with four goals in 57 seconds, a program record for the fastest four tallies.
“When we score, we kind of score in bunches,” senior center Sarah Davis said. “I don’t know why, but I’m not really complaining about it. We find a way to put the puck in the net, and that’s all that matters.”
It took the Gophers 18 seconds to score on their second power play of the game, with Meghan Lorence steering the puck around Friend.
Davis popped one in through a mass of bodies 26 seconds later.
“I was getting kind of frustrated before that,” Davis said. “I felt like we had so many chances; we just couldn’t put the puck in the net. But we just needed to get one in the second period, and then we got rolling.”
Brandt scored a highlight-reel goal 11 seconds after the next faceoff, and then fed Maryanne Menefee on a rush after another 20 seconds passed.
“Hannah Brandt’s goal, I’m still replaying in my mind,” Davis said. “That should be impossible, but she somehow makes it possible.”
Julia Gilbert scored her second goal in as many days and 10th of the year late in the second period to get the Huskies on the board, making the score 5-1.
“Just shooting the puck,” Giesen said. “I think that’s one of our downfalls. We try to do too many things with the puck. Just get it across and shoot the puck and good things are going to happen, and we just don’t do that enough.”
Kate Flug and Brandt completed the scoring in the third period.
For the second straight game, Minnesota converted on two out of three power plays.
“Obviously, their power play is as good as anybody’s, and that was the difference in getting it to 2-0,” Giesen said. “And then 57 seconds there and the game took a huge right turn and went off the road. That’s the difference in the game. Give us back that 57 seconds and we’re still in the game; we’re playing okay.”
The Huskies’ season ends, while the Gophers know that they will have one more home game in the NCAAs in two weeks following the WCHA tournament in Bemidji.
“We just know that every team is going to bring their best,” Davis said. “We have a bullseye on the back of our jerseys. It’s been there since the beginning of the year. We just have to expect everyone’s best, and we’ve just got to bring our best right back at them.”