Minnesota came into Friday’s tilt against St. Cloud State rolling offensively, leading the nation with an average of 7.5 goals per game, and through the first 20 minutes of the game, it looked like that would continue. Minnesota would light the lamp four times in the first frame, and though they could not add to that total in the final two periods, that was enough for the Golden Gophers to skate away with a 4-2 victory over the Huskies.
1:05 Abbey Murphy from Grace Zumwinkle and Emily Zumwinkle 1-0 Minnesota
Off an early 3-on-2 rush, Grace Zumwinkle fed Murphy in the high slot and her wrist shot by goalie Jojo Chobak for the goal.
4:50 Abby Boreen from Catie Skaja and Taylor Heise 2-0 Minnesota
Heise made a strong rush to the net that was stopped, but off the chaos in front of the net, Boreen jammed a rebound of Skaja’s attempt into the upper corner of the net. The play was initially waved off by officials, but replay affirmed that the puck had gone into the net.
Zumwinkle skated the puck into the zone and was stopped on her initial attempt by Chobak. But Oden recovered the loose puck and fed it back out to Zumwinkle in the high slot. Zumwinkle unleashed a blistering slap shot that beat Chobak to the upper corner of the net.
Heise broke in on the right side of the ice and took a wicked snap shot that hit the back bar of the net for the goal.
Taylor Lind forced a turnover as Minnesota attempted to break the puck out of their zone. Hymlarova picked up the loose puck in the corner and skated to the net front where she deked around Skylar Vetter to put St. Cloud State on the board
19:52 Olivia Cvar from Jenniina Nylund and Dayle Ross 4-2
After Minnesota failed to clear the zone, Cvar won a puck battle in a scrum in front of the Minnesota net to jam home the goal.
-This one felt like it could get out of hand early with Minnesota taking a commanding 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the game. Minnesota is so deep and so skilled offensively. The goals that they scored weren’t cheap ones.
When they came out of the first period up 4-0, it felt like it might be another 10+ performance like they did to Minnesota State last week. But that wasn’t to be.
Did the intensity drop for Minnesota after taking such a commanding early lead? Possibly. Though I felt like they got better in the second and third period at controlling the puck in the offensive zone for longer stretches. Ironically, that sometimes makes it harder to create offense when all ten skaters get packed into one zone, creating less space.
Also, credit to St. Cloud State goalie Jojo Chobak, who gave up four goals on the first eight shots that she saw(none of them were soft goals) and came back to stop the final 28 shots on goal that she faced. Stats-wise, she’ll come out of the game with so-so numbers, but did a decent job of at least giving her team a chance later in the game.
-If there is a concern for Minnesota in this game, it’s the back-to-back goals they gave up in the final two minutes of the second period. Both goals came off of plays where Minnesota had control of the puck in their own zone but failed to connect on their breakout and turned the puck over to St. Cloud State.
-Minnesota did an excellent job of shutting things down in the third period. They couldn’t add any insurance goals, but did a great job of minimizing chances for St. Cloud State to get back into the game. Through the first 18 minutes of the third period, St. Cloud State only registered one shot on goal—and even that was iffy. The Huskies got a few chances late, but couldn’t get any more on the board.
If there was a critique with St. Cloud State, it was that they were maybe a little too selective when they got opportunities to shoot. Chances against a team like Minnesota come so rarely that it’s difficult to get the puck in a good position and not come away with at least something on net. They’re not going to out-skill a team like Minnesota. Getting pucks to the net front and hoping for chaos is likely their best strategy.