MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota broke open a scoreless game with three goals in a span of 7 minutes, 19 seconds near the end of the second period and went on to take Game 1 of its playoff series versus St. Cloud State by a 5-1 decision.
The Gophers (21-10-3) got two points from each member of its third line, including a pair of goals by center Sophie Skarzynski.
“They’re just greasy goals below the hashmarks,” coach Brad Frost said. “They’re all big, strong kids, so they’re establishing their forecheck and creating some turnovers and able to bang some things home.”
Skarzynski’s line with Taylor Williamson and Lindsay Agnew had a strong showing against the Huskies (8-19-5) in the teams’ previous meeting earlier in the month and rekindled that success with three straight tallies.
“We just got soft in front of our own net on a couple of chances,” Huskies coach Eric Rud said. “I thought to that point in the game, we really put ourselves in a good position and did a lot of good things.”
Instead, Minnesota’s Nicole Schammel netted the 15th goal of her junior season.
“What a great goal, too,” Frost said. “That’s just her skill taking over, but that was a big goal.”
“When we got through the four on four, I thought we were in good shape,” Rud said. “Typically, that’s a strength of theirs, because they get their top kids out there.”
Early on, SCSU didn’t have a lot of shots, but it did have some high-quality opportunities.
“That’s where we need to bury one of those,” Rud said. “When you’re playing the perennial power programs, you’re not going to get a ton of chances, so when you do get quality ones like that, you’ve got to find a way to get it in the net.”
Senior goalie Sidney Peters came up with some big stops and kept the visitors off the scoreboard until Hallie Theodosopoulos scored on a third-period power play to pull the Huskies to within 4-1. Alex Woken then scored into an empty net for the final margin.
St. Cloud’s Emma Polusny made 34 saves in holding her team even late into the contest.
“We know it’s going to be a real battle tomorrow,” Frost said. “One of the hardest things is to eliminate a team from their season, so we’re expecting another real hard-fought game tomorrow.”