Senior weekend proved fruitful for the Gophers women’s hockey team as they easily swept Minnesota State-Mankato, outscoring the Mavericks 8-1 in the games. Along with the series sweep, it was also a season sweep for the Gophers. Minnesota swept its southern rivals in October and topped the Mavericks in 2019 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum game in December.
Heise powers 5-1 Gophers victory on Friday
The in-state rivals took the opening 10 minutes to acclimate to each other, playing a relatively even game. But not long after the halfway point of the first period, Taylor Heise scored her first goal of the game.
Sarah Potomak added to the Gophers lead later in the period to extend Minnesota's lead to two heading into the first intermission.
Heise continued her scoring, adding another goal to the Gophers lead five minutes into the second period.
Minnesota's domination continued. Right before the period ended, Alex Woken put the Gophers up again.
The third period was Mankato’s best, but it was too late. Mavericks' forward Kelsey King scored their lone goal three minutes into period.
Scobee secures 3-0 shutout victory on senior day
Minnesota celebrated its seniors in a pre-game celebration on the ice. Players greeted coaches and parents, taking pictures and giving hugs. When it was time to drop the puck, the Gophers employed an all-senior starting line: Potomak, Woken, Katie Robinson, Kippin Keller, Patti Marshall and Sydney Scobee.
"When you come here you have a support system all the way from the entire coaching staff, the academic side, and your family back home," said Marshall, a team captain. "Those aspects make your experience playing for this team extremely special. Everyone in this program is there to pick you up even on your worst days."
Like the previous game, both teams went through a feeling-out period in the opening minutes. Eleven minutes in, the Gophers took lead as Grace Zumwinkle fired her team-high 22nd goal of the season.
In the second, Potomak netted her second goal of the series to give the Gophers a two goal lead. Later in the third period, her sister, Amy Potomak, managed to get in the scoring column as well, putting the Gophers in a commanding 3-0 lead that would stay till the end of regulation. Senior goalie Sydney Scobee finished with 24 saves in the shutout victory, her last regular season game at Ridder Arena.
After the game, many of the seniors spoke about the impact Minnesota has had on them.
“I’ve grown so much as a person since freshman year, realizing there is so much more to life than hockey," Sarah Potomak said. "The coaches have instilled personal values over hockey and I think that is why our program has had so much success. Treat your teammates and everyone around you with love and respect every single day.”
Woken echoed Potomak's sentiment.
"The teammates that I’ve had these past four years have been phenomenal," she said. "The seniors I had way back when I was only a freshman even reached out to me today saying ‘happy senior day.'"
The Gophers are back at Ridder Arena next weekend for the first round of the WCHA Tournament against St. Cloud State. The 2020 WCHA tournament takes place in Minneapolis, an advantage the Gophers certainly will welcome.