On an evening in which Minnesota honored its senior class, a sophomore provided overtime heroics.
Center Taylor Wente scored at 1:27 of overtime on Saturday as No. 1 Minnesota (27-4-1, 17-4-1-0) swept Minnesota State (9-17-5, 3-16-3-2). The Gophers won 3-1 on Friday and 3-2 in overtime on Saturday.
After Mavericks goaltender Abigail Levy stopped a backhand shot from right winger Amy Potomak, Wente scored the winner on Saturday on the rebound. It was her 11th goal of the season.
"We didn't stop fighting throughout the whole game," Wente said. "In overtime, we kept going to the fire and won the game."
Left winger Nicole Schammel opened the scoring for Minnesota at 6:21 of the first period. It was Schammel's 12th goal of the season.
Minnesota State responded by scoring two unanswered goals. The Mavericks took the lead at 7:58 of the second period when Gophers goaltender Sydney Scobee missed the puck after trying to make a stick save on a shot by Minnesota State right winger Brooke Bryant. After allowing that goal, Scobee locked down and did not allow another.
Head coach Brad Frost said Scobee gave Minnesota a chance to win and responded well after the second period. Scobee made 22 saves and won her 10th game of the season.
"She made a couple of big saves," Frost said. "It easily could've been 3-1. Soft goals are going to happen periodically, but how you respond to them is what matters."
Left winger Sarah Potomak evened the score for the Gophers at 10:40 of the third period. After a scramble in front of the Mavericks' net, she pounced on the puck and scored her seventh goal of the season.
Neither team could score after Potomak tied the game until Wente's heroics ended the game.
Left winger Tianna Gunderson was one of eight Gophers seniors honored in a pregame ceremony. Gunderson said she is grateful for the support of Minnesota fans throughout her four seasons playing for the maroon and gold.
"I wanted to give them a huge thank you," Gunderson said. "It's crazy to be able to come to a rink that almost fully packed for a game. The energy that everyone gives us is awesome."
Minnesota emerges victorious in physical opener
The Gophers displayed no signs of rust after a two-week hiatus from games.
Minnesota defeated Minnesota State 3-1 on Friday night. The Gophers allowed only 11 shots on goal. Goaltender Alex Gulstene made 10 saves and won her 17th game of the season.
Frost said Minnesota played well in its first game since Feb. 3.
"Getting one there in the first was big," he said. "I thought we played a solid game. There weren't any deficiencies as we look around."
Left winger Abigail Boreen opened the scoring at 6:21 of the first period. It was her fourth goal of the season. Defender Crystalyn Hengler doubled Minnesota's lead at 14:56 of the period, blasting a slap shot past Levy for her second career goal and her first at Ridder Arena.
Hengler said her goal felt meaningful because her mother and grandparents attended the game.
"They come to every home game and some away games when they're pretty close," Hengler said. "To have them here like they always are [is] awesome."
Potomak scored on the power play at 9:59 of the second period, flicking a one-timer past Levy for her ninth goal of the season. Potomak said Minnesota's power play ignited the Gophers on Friday.
"We did a good job of keeping our feet moving and keeping it simple as well as not [committing] too many penalties," she said. "We did a good job staying composed."
The Gophers will conclude their regular season Friday and Saturday against Bemidji State (13-17-2, 10-10-2) at Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minnesota. Both games begin at 3:07 p.m.
Gunderson said Minnesota needs to focus on its next series before thinking about the WCHA postseason.
"We're hoping for a home seed," she said. "We'll see what happens."