After a tough two weekends against top WCHA competition in Ohio State and Wisconsin, the top-ranked Minnesota women’s hockey team played a refreshing, low stakes exhibition match versus Hamline before a ten-day break, taking down the Pipers 9-0.
The first period was all Gophers. The shootout hero of Sunday's game against the Wisconsin Badgers, redshirt sophomore Amy Potomak, struck first at the 12 minute mark of the first period. Not long after, junior forward Grace Zumwinkle found the back of the net, putting the Gophers up 2-0. After two more goals in the period by sophomore forwards Catie Skaja and Taylor Heise, the Gophers held a commanding 4-0 lead and didn't look back.
The second period was much of the same. Zumwinkle scored her second goal of the game and the score would stay at 5-0 for much of the period, with Hamline unable to convert a 5-on-3 power play. Just as the period was about to close, the Gophers scored two more times, from sophomore forward Abigail Boreen and Heise.
For the final period, Hamline switched up goalies, bringing in freshman Maddie Nickell. Unfortunately for the Pipers, the change in netminders didn't change the pace of the game. The Gophers struck twice before the end of the period, once from sophomore defenseman Crystalyn Hengler, and another from Heise, giving the sophomore forward her first hat trick as a Gopher. Once the clock hit zero, the score was 9-0 as the Gophers outshot the Pipers 47-13.
"It felt pretty good, in a game like this, it's fun," Heise said of her hat trick. "We switched off our D and forwards a little bit, which was interesting, and I'm thankful for my teammates for creating a bunch of opportunities for me tonight."
The head coach of Hamline's women's hockey program, Natalie Darwitz, is a former Gopher and a decorated Olympian, and has some experience with head coach Brad Frost.
"My first coaching job was at Eagan High School in 1996 as a JV girls' coach, and there was a 7th or 8th grader on the varsity team named Natalie Darwitz who was tearing it up," Frost said. "I helped coach her in high school and was able to recruit her to Minnesota and was lucky to have her be my assistant coach for a couple of years here. We've got a really solid relationship."
Darwitz was a three-time All-American at the University of Minnesota where she was a part of two national title teams. She is among program leaders for points and assists, and had success after she left the Gophers, representing the United States in three Olympics and eight World Tournaments.
"The ten day break will be a great opportunity for our players to heal up, after our players gave everything they had this weekend, and be ready for Bemidji," Frost said.
The Gophers will recuperate and get prepared for the next series at home against the Bemidji State Beavers on Nov. 15-16.