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#2 Golden Gophers (7-1-0, 5-1-0-0 WCHA)
vs. St. Cloud State University Huskies (3-4-1, 2-3-1-1)
Thursday and Friday, October 27 & 28
Both games at 7:07 p.m. CT
Ridder Arena, Minneapolis, MN

 

The Gopher Women's Hockey team returns to Ridder Arena for back-to-back home series, starting first with a pair of games against the St. Cloud State Huskies. The puck drops tomorrow night (Thursday, October 27) at 7:07 p.m. CT, and continues Friday, October 28, also at 7:07 p.m. CT.

Halloween Weekend at the Rink.–Fans are invited to celebrate Halloween with the Gophers during both Thursday's and Friday's games. No formal activities have been announced, but fans are encouraged to dress up as they wish.

Thursday is also Student Night for University of Minnesota students at Ridder Arena as part of the Gopher Athletics Student Tour; an exclusive giveaway for U. of M. students will be available while supplies last. All current University of Minnesota students receive free admission to regular season Gopher Women's Hockey games with their valid U. of M. student ID at the ticket office.

Saint Cloud State University logo

Last year vs. St. Cloud State.–The Huskies played nearly 282 minutes of action against the Gophers last season before finally scoring a goal; meanwhile, Minnesota lit the lamp 35 times before that occurred. The Gophers opened the season series with 7-0 and 11-0 victories at Ridder Arena last October, won the non-conference U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum Game with another 7-0 result, then posted a third 7-0 score to start their January meeting in St. Cloud before concluding with a 4-2 win. The game on October 10 featured a new NCAA record as Minnesota scored 8 times in the second period. Four Gophers tallied double-digit points in the five games, led by Hannah Brandt's 6 goals -- including a 4-goal outburst on October 10 -- and 7 assists. Dani Cameranesi and Sarah Potomak each recorded 12 points; Cameranesi lit the lamp 5 times while adding 7 helpers, and Potomak recorded 4 goals and 8 assists, including having two 2-goal, 3-assist games. Kelly Pannek added 4 goals and 6 assists for 10 points. Lauren Hespenheide and Suvi Ollikainen scored the Huskies' goals. In net, Amanda Leveille was a perfect 35-for-35 in three of the shutouts, while Sidney Peters stopped 18 of 20 shots in two games while also earning one shutout. SCSU goaltender Katie Fitzgerald started all five games but struggled, posting a .805 save percentage while giving up 31 goals; backup Taylor Crosby had an even more difficult time, yielding 5 goals on only 6 shots in a short relief appearance.

Julia Tylke
Sophomore Julia Tylke is the Huskies' scoring leader this season. 
Image credit: scsuhuskies.com

Analyzing the Huskies.–Despite their struggles against the Gophers, St. Cloud State posted a 9-15-4-3 record in WCHA play last season, good enough for fifth place in the standings. But they fell in a pair of 6-1 games in the conference quarterfinals at North Dakota, ending their season with a 13-18-4 overall record. This year, they've started with 3-4-1 mark overall, 2-3-1-1 in the WCHA.

While last year's scoring leader Molly Illikainen was a senior and completed her collegiate career, sophomore Julia Tylke (#2) has grabbed the reigns. Tylke's 9 goals and 15 assists in her freshman campaign placed her second on the team with 24 points, and she has started this season with 6 goals and 2 assists. Junior Alyssa Erickson (#27) is the only other Husky with multiple goals in the first 8 games of 2016-2017, tallying two while adding two assists.

The Huskies lack experience in goal, but freshman Janine Alder (#1) has all three of the team's wins in 5 appearances (4 starts and one relief outing); she's stopped 132 of 137 shots for a .964 save percentage and a 1.07 goals-against average. Redshirt sophomore Taylor Crosby (#29) has 3 starts this season and 5 appearances in her career, but only an .882 save percentage and 3.92 goals-against average. Senior transfer Madeleine Dahl (#34) is actually the Huskies' most-experienced netminder, having played in 12 games over the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons for Union; however, she didn't see any ice time in 2014-15 or 2015-16, and yielded 6 goals on 34 shots in her only appearance this year (the season opener against Wisconsin).

Last weekend for the Huskies.–Facing Minnesota State on the road in Mankato, St. Cloud State twice took a one-goal lead in the opener on the first collegiate goal by Kayla Friesen and a third-period marker by Payge Pena, but the Mavericks tied the game both times; the Huskies settled for a 2-2 overtime tie and earned the extra WCHA standings point on shootout goals by Alyssa Erickson and Kelsey Saelens. Minnesota State's Emily Antony recorded a goal and an assist during the run of play, plus a goal in the shootout. In the rematch, Erickson and Julia Tylke each tallied a goal and an assist, and Janine Alder made 30 saves to earn a 2-0 shutout victory for St. Cloud State.

University of Minnesota logo

Gophers sweep Buckeyes in Columbus.–Sarah Potomak's hot hand continued when Minnesota traveled to Ohio State. Jacyn Reeves put the Buckeyes up 1-0 in the first period of the opener, but Potomak scored twice to put Minnesota ahead 2-1 at the second intermission. Maddy Field knotted the score 2:53 into the third period, but Potomak completed her first-career hat trick with 4:36 remaining to give the Gophers a 3-2 win. On Saturday, despite a large shots-on-goal advantage, Minnesota again trailed as Dani Sadek scored 8 minutes into the second period for OSU. But Taylor Williamson tied the game later in the period, and Potomak recorded her fourth goal of the weekend -- her fourth-straight game-winning goal -- to give Minnesota a 2-1 victory and the sweep. Patti Marshall dished out 3 assists in the series, and Sidney Peters stopped 34 of 37 shots in net. Buckeye netminder Kassidy Sauve made 90 saves in the two games.

Infographic of Coach Frost's 300th win

Frost reaches 300 wins.–With the weekend sweep in Columbus, Gopher Women's Hockey's Brad Frost reached his 300th career victory as head coach. Frost became the 11th coach in NCAA Division I women's ice hockey history to reach the milestone, and the 3rd to do it leading a WCHA team the entire time. We send our congratulations, and a special recognition is planned before the Gophers' game this Thursday night against St. Cloud State.

Milestone watch continues for Schipper.–GWH senior co-captain Kate Schipper remains on 94 career points on 28 goals and 66 assists, needing just six more to reach the 100-point mark.

Upcoming Team and PPC Events

Teddy Bear Toss.–Some of you may already be planning your holiday shopping. But even if you're not one of the early birds, we encourage you to go out and purchase a new stuffed animal (or several) and bring it / them to the game on Sunday, November 27, for the Gopher Women's Hockey team's fifth annual Teddy Bear Toss. The stuffed animals can be tossed onto the ice following the Gophers' first goal of the game, and will be donated to charity. We would like to surpass the total of 473 toys collected two seasons ago. A short video clip from last year's event can be found here.

Schedule change for Chalk Talk #3.–Please note that, due to Club Room availability (or lack thereof) on January 21, our third Chalk Talk is being rescheduled to Saturday, February 11, at 2:30 p.m., during the series against North Dakota. The pre-game gathering at Blarney Pub on the 11th is now cancelled, but the post-game reception will occur as planned.

Stecklein recognized at Golden Gopher Fund banquet; Skarzynski named recipient of Power Play Club Scholarship

Lee Stecklein Sophie Skarzynski

Lee Stecklein (left) and Sophie Skarzynski (right)
Image credit: gophersports.com

The Golden Gopher Fund hosted its annual Scholarship Banquet this past Monday night in the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium. While the event celebrated the achievements of Gopher student-athletes, it also highlighted the importance of investing in scholarships.

GWH senior co-captain Lee Stecklein was named the 2016 Patty Berg Legacy Scholar Athlete, awarded to the university's top female scholar-athlete. In her acceptance comments to donors, Stecklein shared how she dreamed of being a Gopher, but never thought it was possible until she was committing to play for the U. “Now that I’m actually here, I realize how many people have been involved in making this experience possible for me,” she said. “Even now, I probably don’t understand one percent of what it takes to make my dreams come true. I do know it’s not possible without the generosity of the people in this room.”

Sophomore defender Sophie Skarzynski was named as this year's recipient of the Power Play Club Scholarship. The PPC Scholarship Fund, managed by the Golden Gopher Fund, is one of the many ways we support the team.

We send our congratulations to both Lee and Sophie!!

Räty becomes latest GWH alumna headed to Four Nations Cup

Another Gopher Women's Hockey alumna was named to her respective national team's roster for the upcoming Four Nations Cup tournament. The Finnish Ice Hockey Association, which is hosting the tournament this year, released their team roster on Monday, and it includes veteran goaltender Noora Räty. The Finns will play an exhibition game against Canada on October 30 before the two teams open the tournament against each other on Tuesday, November 1, at 6:30 p.m. local time / 12:30 p.m. EDT / 11:30 a.m. CDT. The tournament runs through Saturday, November 5.

We'll have a special issue of the Penalty Box Post early next week with the full tournament schedule and a quick preview. 

WCHA logo

Around the WCHA

Last weekend.–Minnesota-Duluth gained 5 points in the conference standings, defeating Bemidji State 2-1 on Friday, and tying 3-3 on Saturday with a 1-0 shootout victory; Kateřina Mrázová lit the lamp 3 times in the series and Lara Stalder netted the lone goal of the shootout for the Bulldogs, while Emma Terres recorded two goals and an assist for the Beavers. Wisconsin swept North Dakota in Grand Forks, 2-0 and 5-2; Sarah Nurse tallied a 5-goal weekend, scoring four times in the second game on Sunday, while Ann-Renée Desbiens earned her 41st career shutout on Saturday.

Upcoming games.–Conference action continues for all eight teams this week. Wisconsin is on the road for a third-straight week, this time going to Mankato for a series against Minnesota State. Minnesota-Duluth makes the trip to Columbus to face Ohio State, while North Dakota and Bemidji State are playing a home-and-home series starting in Grand Forks.

Current WCHA standings are available here. The USCHO poll results are available here, along with links to the USA Today, PairWise, RPI, and KRACH polls.