By: Joey Erickson
After a sweep of the Minnesota State Mavericks to begin the month of November, St. Cloud State (3-6-1) enjoyed a bye week to prepare for another tough WCHA opponent. The #3 University of Minnesota (9-3-0) comes to the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center as one of the hottest teams in the nation Friday night for the first leg of a home and home series with the Huskies.
A couple of minutes into the contest Amy Potomak gets called for tripping and sent St. Cloud State to the power play for a great opportunity to set the stone. Or at least they thought so, but an over aggressive power play allowed the Gophers best player Taylor Heise to skate free and deliver a shorthanded goal on the backhand past Sanni Ahola to open the scoring (1-0). She extends her point streak to 11 games. The Huskies were very resilient and responded with better puck possession and creating chances in the attacking zone during 5 on 5. That response would get rewarded off a face-off won by the Huskies and Taylor Lind from beneath the goal line put a pass on the tape of Emma Gentry and she snapped past goaltender Makayla Pahl (1-1). Lind picked up her team leading 9th assist on Gentry’s 3rd of the season and both teams went to the locker tied at 1.
The second period started with much promise for SCSU who came out with a purpose to their play and were getting the better of chances. Just when you thought the Huskies would take the lead a harmless flip from her own zone by Emily Brown springs a 2 on 1 where Audrey Wethington one timed the pass from Savannah Norcross to grab the lead back for Minnesota (2-1). This was a spark for the Gophers and the game began to get away from St. Cloud. 41 seconds later defender Olivia Knowles jumps into the rush and got a nice feed from Emily Oden and she made it (3-1) just like that. The Huskies played on their heels for much of the period and the speed of Minnesota was too much to handle. The Gophers were getting pretty much anything they wanted offensively, and they potted two more before the end of the period. Abigail Boreen got her 5th of the season and Heise beat Ahola for her second of the game (5-1).
Not much action happened in the final frame in terms of goal scoring, but the game was chippy which was exacerbated by a couple of collisions with Gophers and Husky goaltender Ahola. One which led to a penalty and sent St. Cloud to the power play for the third time on the night. Great puck movement from St. Cloud State led to Addi Scribner’s second goal off a pass from you know who, Taylor Lind (5-2). Minnesota would not let it get any closer, Gracie Ostertag got the lead back to 4 on a slap shot from the top of the circle and that was all she wrote (6-2). Huskies were outshot 40-25 in the contest and struggled obtaining the puck due to being beat in the faceoff dot 39-24. #3 University of Minnesota (10-3) wins their 9th straight and St. Cloud State (2-6-1) stays tied for 5th in the WCHA with St. Thomas.
The final game of the series will be at Ridder Arena Saturday night in Minneapolis for the U.S Hockey Hall of Fame Face-Off Classic. Puck drop is scheduled for 3:00 CST and can be heard on the KVSC Sports Stream or watched on Big 10+ Network.