The No. 2 Gophers women’s hockey team (21-6-5, 17-5-4-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) earned just one point in this weekend’s series against St. Cloud State, a team Minnesota had previously lost to just twice in school history.
In the standings, Friday night’s contest counts as a 2-2 tie, but losing in a shootout did nothing to improve the Gophers’ confidence before dropping Saturday’s game 6-3. Minnesota impressively outshot the Huskies both nights but was unable to capitalize on numerous chances.
Sophomore goalie Alyssa Grogan started Friday’s game in net for the Gophers. Grogan allowed only two goals throughout all of regulation and the overtime period, but could not stop either shot she faced in the shootout.
Minnesota trailed most of the night Friday and despite looking flat in the first period, controlled the game the rest of the way. The Gophers outshot the Huskies 27-6 in the final two periods as part of an unsuccessful comeback effort.
“It was a tough one tonight,” Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said. “I thought, for the most part, the effort was there, in particular in the third [period]. When we needed a goal, we went out and got one. We could have used one more, obviously, but we had some good opportunities. The puck didn’t bounce and go in the net.”
Frost said he doesn’t believe it is a lack of effort that is leading to his teams’ inability to score goals. Senior forward Brittany Francis echoed this sentiment and said everyone has been playing hard.
Frost was disappointed with the results but liked the way his team played all weekend.
“We would feel a lot better if we had won the shootout, but I don’t think that [losing the shootout] should necessarily determine the focus on how we played,” he said.
Whether the shootout loss determined the team’s focus, the Gophers couldn’t bounce back Saturday, dropping the second game 6-3 . Minnesota again outshot the Huskies 48-20, but failed to convert when necessary.
“[The girls] know they need to score goals. Our top goal scorer is out of the lineup and our top goalie is in Vancouver,” Frost said. “We need some of our big-time players to start stepping up and start putting the puck in the net for us.”
The Gophers were without leading goal scorer Emily West, who was injured last weekend in a game against the University of Minnesota-Duluth. They are also missing starting goaltender Noora Räty, who is in Vancouver competing for Finland in the Winter Olympics.
West’s absence has been noticeable on the ice and in the scorebook the past two weekends, but the team isn’t using that as an excuse for the lack of production.
“We’ve just got to pick it up and work as a team,” freshman Kate Frischmann said of West’s absence. “It hurts with her gone, but we can do it.”
Junior goalie Jenny Lura started Saturday and allowed five goals. St. Cloud State added an empty-netter to seal the victory.
The Gophers had a tough time dealing with the reality that they generated plenty of scoring opportunities and still came up short in the search for a win.
“We dominated them on the shot chart, but not on the scoreboard where it really matters,” Frost said.
Minnesota enters a border battle next weekend as they host No. 10 Wisconsin in search of goals, an elusive win and a chance to clinch the WCHA crown. Entering the final regular season weekend, the Gophers sit two points ahead of Minnesota-Duluth, who travel to Bemidji State next weekend.