MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Amanda Kessel had a goal and two assists, while the No. 4 University of Minnesota women's hockey team had scoring from four different individuals in a 4-1 win over St. Cloud State, today, at Ridder Arena. In all, nine Golden Gophers tallied a point en route to their 20th win of the season. Minnesota is now 20-7-2 overall and 15-7-2 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. SCSU drops to 0-28-1 overall and 0-23-1 in the WCHA.
With the win and a Bemidji State loss to Wisconsin, the Gophers have clinched home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. Minnesota is currently second in the conference standings with 48 points, followed by North Dakota in third (47), Minnesota Duluth (45) and Bemidji State (35). Wisconsin won the WCHA regular season championship last night and currently have 64 conference points to clinch the No. 1 seed.
The Gopher win also marked another 20-win season for Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have had a 20-plus win season since it became a varsity program in 1997-98.
After a scoreless first period, three goals were scored in the second as Minnesota went up, 2-1 after two. Amanda Kessel scored the game's first goal when she netted a power-play goal at 10:38 in the second period. Kelly Terry and Anne Schleper assisted on the play. However, St. Cloud State scored its first goal of the weekend at 13:24 in the second period from Molli Mott. Minnesota responded with a goal at 19:37 in the second to put the Gophers up, 2-1 after two. Becky Kortum scored on a rebound attempt after Megan Bozek wound up for the slapshot. Sarah Davis held the second assist.
Jen Schoullis cushioned the lead at 2:52 in the third when she ripped a shot from the top of the circles. SCSU goalie Ashley Nixon was able to stop it, but not enough for the momentum as it trickled past her and across the goal line. It was Schoullis' 11th goal of the season, while Kessel and Baylee Gillanders assisted on the play. Minnesota was called with a penalty at 14:01 and St. Cloud State called timeout. Out of the break, SCSU pulled Nixon to add the extra power play attacker. Minnesota returned its player to the ice as SCSU still had the goalie pulled. At 19:49, Kessel set up Ashley Stenerson for her first career goal as a Golden Gopher with the empty netter and a 4-1 final. The second assist was credited to Sarah Erickson.
Noora Raty played in goal for the Golden Gophers. She had eight saves in the first, seven in the second and seven in the third for a three-period total of 22 saves. Nixon finished the night with three goals allowed and 39 saves.
Minnesota closes out the regular home season next weekend as the Bemidji State Beavers come to town. Friday's game is at 6 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. Saturday tilt at Ridder Arena. The Gophers will also honor their seniors, Jenny Lura, Laura May and Terra Rasmussen prior to Saturday's game.