MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Led by four points from sophomore Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights, Minn.), the No. 1 Golden Gopher women's hockey team cruised past St. Cloud State, 7-1, at Ridder Arena Saturday evening. The Gophers defeated the Huskies 4-1 and 7-1 to win the best-of-three WCHA first round series and advance to next weekend's WCHA Final Face-off.
Along with Brandt's four-point effort, five other Gophers recorded multiple points in Minnesota's 14th-straight victory. Freshman Kate Flug (Roseville, Minn.), senior Sarah Davis (Paradise, N.L.), sophomore Maryanne Menefee (Lansing, Mich.) and junior Meghan Lorence (Mounds View, Minn.) each recorded two points on one goal and one assist, and junior Rachael Ramsey (Chanhassen, Minn.) registered two assists.
"I'm really happy to win the game here tonight and advance on to the Final Face-off up in Bemidji," head coach Brad Frost said. "St. Cloud put a little more pressure on us tonight, but I thought we weathered the storm well. Getting those four goals in a short amount of time in the second period was huge to blow the game open.
"I'm proud of the team. We have a great group, and I'm really excited to see what next weekend brings."
The Gophers (34-1-1) scored four goals in a 57-second span of the second period to break open a 1-0 game after senior Kelly Terry (Whitby, Ont.) scored a power-play goal to put Minnesota on the board midway through the first period.
The flurry of second-period goals from Lorence, Davis, Brandt and Menefee gave the Gophers a 5-0 lead before Julia Gilbert scored at 17:44 of the middle frame to spoil Minnesota's shutout. The Gophers added two goals by Flug and Brandt in the third period to seal the victory and extend their current unbeaten streak to 22 games (21-0-1).
Minnesota outshot St. Cloud State, 42-16, for the game. Sophomore Amanda Leveille (Kingston, Ont.) made 11 saves on 12 shots before junior Shyler Sletta (Elko New Market, Minn.) made four saves over the final 20 minutes. SCSU's Julie Friend made 16 saves over the first 33:40, and Katie Fitzgerald made 19 saves on 21 shots in the final 26:20 for the Huskies (4-27-5).
The Gophers were 2-for-3 on the power play for the second-straight game and held St. Cloud State scoreless on two opportunities with the man advantage.
With a pair of wins, Minnesota advances to the 2014 WCHA Final Face-off next weekend. The Gophers have won the last two WCHA Final Face-off titles, defeating Minnesota Duluth 2-0 in the 2012 title game and topping North Dakota 2-0 to claim the 2013 crown.
Third-seeded North Dakota knocked off Bemidji State in the best-of-three series, while Wisconsin/Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth/Ohio State are even at one game apiece and will be decided on Sunday.
Tickets for the 2014 WCHA Final Face-off, which will be held at Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn., March 7-8, are on sale now. Two semifinal games on Friday are at 4:07 pm and 7:07 pm CT with the WCHA Final Face-off championship game at 7:07 pm CT on Saturday.