The Gophers’ motto this season has been, “Get it done.”
They did that this weekend, sweeping St. Cloud State at home.
Minnesota won 3-0 and 3-1, but the Gophers weren’t at their best.
“We just need to be better and show a little more discipline and more devotion to the team,” head coach Brad Frost said after Saturday’s game.
Minnesota took six penalties Saturday, including three in the third period.
“We won, and we got our six points, which we needed to do, but we also took way too many penalties,” junior forward Rachael Bona said Saturday.
The Gophers’ penalty kill was effective against St. Cloud’s power-play unit, which converts 9.5 percent of the time, the worst rate in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
“Against St. Cloud, we can get away with that kind of thing, but with North Dakota, they have a great power play, so we’re going to have to cut down on our penalties,” Bona said.
The key to doing that?
“Not being dumb,” Frost said.
The second games of weekend series have been a focal point for the Gophers all year, and though Frost said the second game wasn’t better than the first this weekend, the team started it well.
Bona scored just 32 seconds into the first period, and she said she thought scoring that early in the game set the pace.
In the second game against St. Cloud State in November, the Gophers needed a late third-period rush to come back for the win.
They didn’t have to do that this weekend.
“It’s important for us to get out [early],” Frost said. “We’re better frontrunners than we are coming from behind.”
Minnesota got off to a strong start Friday, too, and gave up just five shots on goal through two periods.
Frost said the team was really solid and had great energy from the drop of the puck.
Gophers junior forward Meghan Lorence provided two of the three goals on the night.
Her first goal came 14:51 into the first period after sophomore forward Hannah Brandt made an assist that set up the score.
“I didn’t even know if she saw me,” Lorence said. “Sometimes she doesn’t even look, but she makes a great play anyway.
“That’s just Hannah for you. I was amazed that I even got the puck, because not everyone can see the ice like she does.”
Lorence’s second goal was on the power play after she was able to get her stick on a blast from sophomore defenseman Milica McMillen.
Minnesota freshman forward Kate Schipper recorded assists on Minnesota’s second and third goals. She added another assist Saturday night.
“It’s obvious I’ve been struggling to get points, but I think that’s just part of the game,” Schipper said Friday. “It’s part of being a freshman. Not everything clicks every time.”
Before Friday night, Schipper hadn’t had a two-point game since Dec. 1.
“I thought she played exceptionally well all weekend moving the puck,” Frost said of Schipper. “[She] had some opportunities that didn’t go in, but as far as moving the puck and seeing the ice, I thought she did a great job.”
The Gophers were able to pick up six crucial conference points despite not playing their best hockey, which is especially critical with Wisconsin close behind in the standings.
Next weekend they’ll travel to Grand Forks, N.D., to play North Dakota, the only team to hand them a loss this season.