POTSDAM--Entering Friday night’s contest, the Clarkson University Women’s Hockey team was looking to gain a measure of revenge against the University of Minnesota, the same squad that ended the Golden Knights season in the NCAA Quarterfinals this past March. The Green and Gold’s retribution will have to wait another day, as the Golden Gophers opened the season with a 5-0 victory over Clarkson in front of 908 fans at Cheel Arena.
Clarkson, ranked 7th in the country in the preseason USCHO poll, falls to 0-1-0 on the season, while 6th-ranked Minnesota moves to 1-0-0. The two teams will meet again on Saturday, with the opening faceoff scheduled for 3:00 pm.
The first period could easily have been split in two, as Clarkson controlled the first portion of the frame while Minnesota dominated the second half. The Knights held the Gophers to just a single shot on goal in the first eight minutes while putting seven on goal in the same time. However, a body-checking penalty game Minnesota new life through the frame and the team took advantage. With less than half a minute remaining in the power play, Gophers’ center Amanda Kessel skated along the red line near the Clarkson crease and put a shot on goal up close, where Clarkson goaltender Lauren Dahm (Baldwinsville, NY) stopped it. The rebound, however, bounced directly to the stick of Jen Schoullis, who flipped it over Dahm’s shoulder to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Besides Kessel, Sarah Erickson also assisted.
Five minutes later the Gophers struck again. A shot from the point rebounded to the right side where another pass through the crease found the stick of Kessel, who picked up the goal at 15:28. Assists went to Erickson and Megan Bozek.
After holding a 7-1 lead in shots through the first eight-plus minutes, Clarkson had just one more shot on goal in the period while Minnesota discovered its offense to the tune of 13 shots in the final 12 minutes.
In the second period, Minnesota continued to challenge the Knights’ defense, but Clarkson held the Gophers off the scoreboard after the initial push. The Green and Gold had their chances offensively when Minnesota took two penalties midway through the frame, creating a 5-on-3 opportunity. Unfortunately, Clarkson had just two shots on the Minnesota goal as the Gophers expertly denied several other chances with body blocks.
Following a stretch with little action, Minnesota again asserted itself on the offensive end. Dahm stopped a pair of shots from the top of the crease, but the puck made its way through the slot and found the stick of Kessel once again, who flipped it past the glove of the Clarkson netminder at 17:40. Emily West and Terra Rasmussen each earned assists on the score.
Only a minute later, the Gophers struck again, essentially putting the game out of reach. The Clarkson defense failed to clear the puck beyond the blue line where Laura May stole the puck and sent a pass through the slot to Becky Kortum. The sophomore center one-timed a shot at 18:19, giving Minnesota a 4-0 edge.
Clarkson made a goaltender change following the second intermission as freshman Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT) made her collegiate debut, but the alteration made little difference to the Gophers. Sarah Erickson, who had assisted on two earlier goals, scored her first of the season on a backhand from the bottom of the left circle at 3:10, with assists going to linemates Kessel and Schoullis.
Dahm had 23 saves in 40 minutes, while Howe finished out the third period with nine saves. Minnesota’s Noora Raty made 23 saves to preserve the shutout.
Minnesota finished the game with a 37-23 lead in shots, scoring once on the power play in seven chances. The Knights went 0-for-8 in an extra skater.