MINNEAPOLIS- It's hard to start with what was impressive about Saturday's Minnesota-St. Cloud State game at Ridder Arena. By the time a single moment started to stand out, there were two more to stand next to it on a tilted ice. Fans began to tire of cheering as the home team did not let up for 40 minutes, creating a continuous roar at times.
The afternoon was special one even for a team which has had plenty of special moments.
"It was crazy. We scored once and then we scored another and had a lot of momentum on that shift," said defenseman Sydney Baldwin, who had four assists. "From our standpoint we played a really good game the second period in general and really put the puck in the net."
Top-ranked Minnesota (4-0-0, 2-0-0-0 WCHA) defeated St. Cloud State (2-2-0, 0-2-0-0 WCHA) by a final score of 11-0 to complete a two-game sweep. The final score was a message sent to the rest of the WCHA, buoyed by a NCAA women's hockey-record 8 goals in a single period.
On the ice was a total team effort that saw every bounce going its way on offense and a fourth consecutive clean sheet by the Gophers on defense.
"We can obviously score and that's a great thing, but I'm just as impressed or more impressed by our defensive play, our back checking keeping things to the outside and really forcing teams to struggle to get opportunities on the ice," head coach Brad Frost said. "That's been the biggest takeaway for me."
That total included separate stretches during the second period where the Gophers scored multiple goals in less than the time of a shift. Goals were notched quickly enough where the Ridder Arena PA announcer had a trio backed up to announce thanks to the Rouser roaring on loop. Of Minnesota's 10 second period shots, only two were saved.
Hannah Brandt scored a career-high 4 goals - scoring twice in each of the first two periods - and became the first Gopher player to reach that mark in a game since Amanda Kessel did so in 2013.
Admittedly Brandt wasn't happy with her play last night. A couple missed opportunities that went off her stick in a goal-less performance.
"It felt good. I struggled a little bit yesterday to score so it felt good," she said.
On Saturday those found twine. Even the ones where she was tired at the end of the shift. She started off the scoring on the power play 2:37 into the game with a power play goal.
Sandwiched between Brandt's first period goals, sophomore Kelly Pannek lit the lamp for the fifth time in three games. Hers came on the power play, which Minnesota finished the weekend a perfect 5 for 5, as the sophomore went over the 50 point mark in her career.
Brook Garzone scored her first goal before goals by linemates Sarah Potomak and Brandt 13 seconds apart sent St. Cloud State goaltender Katie Fitzgerald to the bench 5:22 into the second. Brandt's hat trick was completed off the face-off as Dani Cameranesi found her in stride for the third goal of the period on 3 shots.
She then added a shorthanded goal in the closing seconds of a Milica McMillen penalty.
"It's hard to say," Frost said about Brandt's performance being her best, citing her tendency to stepping up in big games. "Fortunately I'm used to seeing her doing what she did tonight."
Sophomore Cara Piazza and Potomak scored twice in the second period. Both finished a stretch of 3 goals in 32 seconds begun by Kate Schipper which helped set the single period record. The Gophers played many of its youngsters during the third period, not focusing as much on shooting the puck and more on fundamentals and possessions.
Sidney Peters started her second game of the season after Amanda Leveille got the nod Friday. Like Leveille, Peters wasn't tested much and only made six saves. Minnesota's defense continues to shine, however, forcing players to the outside and limiting opportunities when given. Dating back to last year, the Gophers have not allowed a goal for a stretch of 244:54.
And the stats continue to stand out. Baldwin was an outstanding +8. 12 players had at least one point. 8 had multiple points. Five of the Gophers' top-six forwards notched goals. (The sixth, Dani Cameranesi, scored twice on Friday.)
"Our shot selection was very good tonight. That's good going into Ohio State next weekend," Brandt said. "Hopefully we can keep it up."
Minnesota next travels to Columbus to play the Buckeyes in a two-game series October 16-17. Friday's game begins at 5:00 p.m. CT while Saturday's has a 1:00 p.m. CT start.
MIN- Hannah Brandt (3) (Lee Stecklein 2:37 PP)
MIN- Kelly Pannek (5) (Sarah Potomak, MeganWolfe 12:15 PP)
MIN- Brandt (4) (Sydney Baldwin 14:07)
MIN- Brook Garzone (1) (Baldwin, Taylor Williamson 2:46)
MIN- Sarah Potomak (2) (Dani Cameranesi, Cara Piazza 5:09)
MIN- Brandt (5) (Cameranesi, Potomak 5:22)
MIN- Brandt (6) (Baldwin, Potomak 9:17 SHG)
MIN- Cara Piazza (2) (Kate Schipper, Milica McMillen 11:45)
MIN- Kate Schipper (1) (Pannek, Garzone 15:49)
MIN- Piazza (3) (Schipper, Baldwin 16:13)
MIN- Potomak (3) (Cameranesi 16:21)
SCSU 1 -2 -3 -- 6
MIN 10 - 10 -4 --24
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate