It may not always be pretty, but good teams find a way to win no matter the circumstances.
Simply put, Minnesota’s women’s hockey team is good.
The Gophers, a team already with a short bench, were without three forwards this weekend but managed to come through with 4-1 and 4-3 victories, running its winning streak to 61 games.
Minnesota stormed back in dramatic fashion Saturday, scoring both the game-tying and winning goals late in the third period.
“[Saturday’s] game was one where we got pushed to the limit, and [I’m] proud of our kids for finding a way to get the job done there,” head coach Brad Frost said.
Freshman forward Dani Cameranesi deflected a shot by senior defenseman Baylee Gillanders to tie the game with 2:02 left to play.
“We got the tying goal, [and] everyone was excited, and you just kind of knew that we were going to finish it,” freshman defenseman Kelsey Cline said.
And they did.
Sophomore defenseman Milica McMillen sealed the win for the Gophers with 1:09 left in the game off assists from sophomore forward Hannah Brandt and junior defenseman Rachel Ramsey.
“I went on the ice knowing that we just had to play solid defense for two minutes and maybe take it to overtime,” McMillen said. “But Hannah chipped the puck to me, and [I] went in, just cut to the middle, and I shot it.”
Minnesota had a subpar first period, in which the Huskies took a two-goal lead.
“We were just trying to stay positive, but all of us knew that that’s not the team we really are,” Cline said.
The Gophers responded with a strong second period, tying the game with two goals from senior forward Sarah Davis.
St. Cloud State scored just 49 seconds into the third period to take a 3-2 lead.
“They held us off for basically the whole period, and coach [Frost] just kept saying, ‘Stay calm. Play your game. Keep staying calm,’” Cline said.
McMillen said the team “had a couple lapses” this weekend, but it wasn’t as bad as it’s been in the past. She said the Gophers could have fallen apart after going down by two goals in the first period, but players knew if they stayed together as a team, they could overcome the obstacles.
“To be down a goal with two minutes left and to be able to win in regulation shows a lot of heart and character,” Frost said. “We never doubted that our team had that, but it sure was nice to see them pull out the win.”
Friday’s game was far less dramatic.
Minnesota established a lead in the first period on a goal by Davis and never relinquished it.
Davis had three goals and two assists on the weekend. Frost said she has been “incredibly consistent” for the Gophers this season.
Cline scored her first collegiate goal in the second period. She said she saw the slot open, found a clear lane and capitalized on it.
“It was just one of those things where you want it to happen and just get it out of the way,” Cline said. “Hopefully now, that’s just the first of many.”
Cline, who has played defense for the Gophers this season, was up at forward in place of freshman forward Kate Schipper this weekend.
Schipper, junior forward Meghan Lorence and sophomore forward Maryanne Menefee were out of the lineup this weekend, which Frost said was due to both injury and illness.
Each of the Gophers’ three lines was missing a player in the series, and Cline, sophomore Brook Garzone and freshman Kate Flug filled in as replacements.
Minnesota will face stiff competition next weekend when it returns home to take on North Dakota at Ridder Arena.