By: Joey Erickson
Game two of the home and home series between St. Cloud State (4-6-1) and #3 University of Minnesota (10-3-0) would be held at the ever-haunting Ridder Arena. Since its creation in 2002, St. Cloud State has never won a game in the home of the Gophers. It was also the U.S Hockey Hall of Fame Museum Face-Off Classic which kicked off the game with a ceremonial puck drop from World Series Champion Kent Hrbek.
Unlike the day before, the Gophers had their legs under them to start this one and dominated time of possession off the opening face-off. As we’ve seen in the past, St. Cloud State was able to hold on and get some big time stops from Sanni Ahola who was making her 4th straight start in net. Eventually, a continuous amount of offensive zone time would pay off for Minnesota, Emily Oden found the captain Emily Brown at the top of the left circle, and she snapped one past the glove of Ahola and the Gophers strike first in back-to-back games (1-0). It would get worst for the Huskies before it would get better. Taylor Heise was dazzling once again, coming off a three-point effort in game one she wheeled through the entire attacking zone, went through two Huskies and lost possession of the puck. Unfortunately, that loose puck found the stick of Gracie Ostertag, she one timed it into the back of the net for her 4th of the season and goals in back to back games (2-0). Heise extended her point streak to 12 games with the primary assist and Catie Skaja upped hers to 9 with the secondary assist. Four and a half minutes later the Gophers were not done, a failed clear out of the zone by St. Cloud found the tape of Heise, she charges in and slides one off to Abigail Boreen on the back door to tap in for her 8th of the season and Minnesota took a 3-goal lead to the locker room (3-0).
St. Cloud State needed a spark in the 2nd if they wanted to give themselves a reasonable chance to force a split on the weekend. Fortunately, the Gophers were in penalty trouble for most of the period. St. Cloud had no trouble setting up their offense in the attacking zone, the bigger problem was finding the net behind freshman goalie Skyler Vetter. Minnesota would survive the penalty kill in the first five minutes and then they went to work again. An odd man rush led to a chance right in front of Ahola, the initial shot was blocked but a loose puck in front was slammed home by Emily Oden (4-0). With a chance for the game to get out of hand, St. Cloud State needed a response and they got it. A shot from the right point by Mckenna Wesloh was deflected by Olivia Cvar, then off the shin pad of Mackenzie Bourgerie out front and past Vetter to get the Huskies on the board (4-1). Bourgerie continues her great sophomore campaign with her 4th of the year. The final 9 minutes of the period saw more penalties, but both teams had nothing to show for it. A comeback was the only hope of salvaging a weekend for St. Cloud.
As we saw the night prior, the Gophers made it tough for the Huskies to find any time and space in the contest. Constantly being pressured led to a plethora of turnovers and fed the chances for Minnesota. The Gophers would get one more in the third, a whiffed shot from Payton Hemp went off the gliding skate of Crystalyn Hangler and beat Ahola for the 5th time on the afternoon. Nothing ever cultivated for St. Cloud State at the other end of the rink. SCSU was 0-6 on the power play and was outshot 37-21. Skyler Vetter picked up her second career win and #3 Minnesota (11-3) sweep St. Cloud State (4-7-1) on the weekend.
St. Cloud State doesn’t have much time to enjoy their Thanksgiving Break. A trip to the east coast is in their future with a series against RPI on Nov. 26 and 27. Both games have a scheduled puck drop at 2:00 PM CST.