The Gophers tied Ohio State last Saturday, a rare result for the top-ranked team in the country.
This weekend, the Gophers responded by handily sweeping Minnesota State-Mankato in a home-and-home series.
“The thing that was disappointing about last weekend was that we were flat and didn’t have a lot of energy,” head coach Brad Frost said. “I thought this weekend in both of our games, our team played really well, up on their toes.”
The Gophers won 4-0 in the first game of the series Friday. They played at TCF Bank Stadium as part of the Hockey City Classic. They followed that up with a 5-0 win on the road Sunday.
In all four games Minnesota has played against MSU this season, the Gophers took an early lead and cemented the win with goals late in the second period.
“I just credit our kids for continuing to stay with it,” Frost said. “They dug in and found a way to eventually get a few past their goaltender.”
On Friday, junior forward Meghan Lorence gave Minnesota a first-period lead, and the Gophers put the game away with two goals in the last two minutes of the second period.
That pattern continued Sunday as senior forward Kelly Terry gave Minnesota a lead 2:14 into the game that it didn’t relinquish.
The Gophers got goals from Terry, sophomore forward Hannah Brandt, Lorence and junior forward Rachael Bona within a 6:02 span in the second period to help the Gophers put the game out of reach.
Terry said coming out strong in the first period of the second game in a series has been a point of emphasis for the Gophers.
“Our coaches make sure that it’s a priority that we’re not looking past our first few shifts a game,” Terry said. “This weekend we managed to change it up a little bit compared to our usual flatness.”
This weekend, the settings for the two games were polar opposites.
Friday’s game was the first-ever outdoor hockey game for the Gophers.
Minnesota forwards Sarah Davis and Bona admitted the frigid air hurt their lungs when they played outside Friday.
“There were a lot of distractions and a lot of elements that we weren’t sure about, but I thought we played well,” Frost said Friday.
The Gophers were able to move past the unique conditions to focus on the task at hand.
“I think leading up to it, it was like, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to play outside,’” Davis said. “But … a couple shifts in, it was just a regular game.”
Davis led the Gophers’ offensive attack with a goal and two assists in the outdoor game.
Davis grew up playing pond hockey with her father in Canada and said the outdoor atmosphere “brings you back to your roots.”
Frost said the Hockey City Classic was an “incredible night” and a “wonderful event to be part of.”
“We just had to treat it like any other game but definitely take in the experience,” Frost said Friday. “We’re going to look back on it with fond memories.