The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 19, 2013

Undefeated Gophers too much for MSU women

MANKATO — Trailing 1-0 early in the second period of their game against the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota State women’s hockey squad had a prime opportunity to even the score. Within a span of five seconds, the Golden Gophers committed two penalties, lending the Mavericks a 5-on-3 advantage for nearly two minutes against the defending national champions.

“When you’ve got a 5-on-3 for almost two minutes, you’ve got to score,” MSU coach Eric Means said.

MSU had a bevy of up-close chances, but Noora Raty stopped all five of their power-play shots. Shortly after the penalty kill, the Gophers’ Hannah Brandt scored the first of her two goals, en route to a 6-0 shutout Saturday in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game at All Seasons Arena. It was the Gophers’ 16th straight win against MSU.

“We had some good looks,” Means said. “It’s almost more frustrating when you get good looks and don’t score, as opposed to fumbling it around. For all intensive purposes, that pretty much ended the game. It’s such an emotional swing from an opportunity to tie or go ahead, and then all of the sudden we’re down 2-0.”

The Mavericks came out strong in the opening period against the Gophers (24-0, 18-0 in WCHA) with five early shots on goal. The Mavericks killed an early penalty, but after a Lauren Smith tripping penalty, Minnesota’s Milica McMillen scored on a one-timer that found a crease through goalie Danielle Butters’ padding.

“We had a good start,” Means said. “Unfortunately, we took back-to-back penalties, and that hurt us. Early on, (Butters) made some really good saves, and you’re going to need good goaltending to beat this team.”

After surviving the 5-on-3 penalty kill, the Gophers put the game out of reach, scoring three goals in the second period, including two assists by Amanda Kessel, giving her 200 points for her career. Kessel is only the ninth player in NCAA history to reach the 200-point mark by her junior year.

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