After dominating Union and Syracuse last weekend, No. 3 Minnesota continued its excellent execution against inferior opponents as it began WCHA play against St. Cloud State.
The Gophers defeated St. Cloud State 6-0 Friday and 8-0 Saturday while outshooting the Huskies 109-26 in the series.
However, the elation was constrained when senior center Jen Schoullis left Saturday’s game with what head coach Brad Frost called an “upper body injury.”
Frost said Schoullis’ status “remains uncertain” for the team’s two matches at Wisconsin next weekend.
Amanda Kessel said the thought of potentially losing Schoullis for an extended period of time is disappointing.
“It kind of puts a damper on our line and on our team,” she said.
Kessel led Minnesota (4-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) with six points on the weekend, tallying five goals and one assist.
She kicked off the weekend scoring five minutes and 10 seconds into the first period Friday night.
Kessel then assisted on Schoullis’ second-period goal and found the net again 10 seconds later for her second goal of the night.
The Gophers stretched their lead to five when freshman Megan Lorence punched in her first career goal.
Emily West, who missed nearly all of last season, provided stellar special teams play Friday.
West scored a shorthanded goal late in the first period and added a power play goal in the third to set the final score at 6-0.
Kessel continued her dominance into Saturday’s game, recording the second — and first natural — hat trick of her career.
“We got a little sluggish there in the first period, but I thought scoring quickly there in the second really blew the game open,” Frost said.
Minnesota led 1-0 after one period Saturday, but Kelly Terry scored 10 seconds into the second and added another goal minutes later to make it a three-score game.
“We knew we could beat this team by more than [one goal] and really needed some momentum, especially going into next weekend,” Terry said. “We couldn’t just leave it at a close game like that.”
Kessel added three goals in succession following Terry’s two-goal flurry and Lorence scored her second goal of the season to cap off the scoring in the period.
“They obviously ramped it up and played at a different level than us in the second period,” St. Cloud State head coach Jeff Giesen said.
“We were terrible. We played alright in the first and I thought we were going to build on that, but they’re pretty good.”
Minnesota excelled on the penalty kill this weekend, killing off every power play opportunity the Huskies had.
The Gophers took seven penalties Saturday night, but St. Cloud State (1-3-0, 0-2-0 WCHA) couldn’t capitalize.
“Obviously we need to take less than we did tonight, but we’ve been doing what I think is a pretty good job over the last couple weeks of being disciplined,” Frost said.
“When the game gets away a little bit, sometimes more penalties are called to try and even things up, and I thought that was the case tonight.”
Minnesota shuffled its lines following Schoullis’ injury in an attempt to find some chemistry among the team’s depth.
“We rotated our three centers through our four sets of wings to try and see if we could find some combinations that work,” Frost said.
The Gophers will travel to Madison, Wis., next weekend to take on the defending NCAA champion Wisconsin Badgers.