NEW HAVEN, CT — After combining for 28 goals over the past four games, the Minnesota Golden Gophers women found their eighth consecutive victory by relying on defense and unexpected scoring.
With Yale goaltender Tera Hofmann keeping the visiting team’s top six off the scoreboard, Minnesota’s fourth line made a major contribution Saturday as Abigail Boreen and Kippin Keller scored the opening two goals in a 3-1 win and nonconference series sweep. Linemate Catie Skaja, meanwhile, assisted on both.
“The Skaja line tonight was our best line by far,” Gopher head coach Brad Frost said postgame. “We’ve talked a lot about our depth, but to have 11 of our forwards have four goals or more is just an impressive stat. Our depth is really paying off.”
Outshooting Yale 11-5 in the first period, Minnesota (15-2-1, 9-2-1-0 WCHA) got on the board 11:35 into the first period on a goal from Boreen. The freshman forward hustled to get a loose puck, shooting it off the post and in for her second goal of the season.
Five minutes later Keller beat a Bulldogs defender to create a partial breakaway. Yale’s (2-10-0, 2-6-0 ECAC) Hofmann made the initial save, but Keller put the rebound past her for her first goal of the season.
“Our ‘fourth line’ played really solid. They were grinders and kept it simple,” senior defender Sophie Skarzynski said. “Their defense was doing a really great job of pinching so we had to become aware of that and just work on getting the puck out of the zone.”
While the Gophers’ top six were able to test Hofman, the junior kept Yale in striking distance. Hofmann, a day after Minnesota put up seven at Ingalls Rink, got help from her defense stopping several cross-ice passes and made 41 saves.
Yale’s Tabea Botthof cut the Gopher lead in half 4:37 into the third period with her second goal of the season. Sparked by the goal, the Bulldogs looked to tie the game with an extra attacker before Grace Zumwinkle scored an empty net goal for her fourth of the weekend.
Alex Gulstene, getting the nod in net Saturday, stopped 17 of 18 shots. Her best came in the second period when sophomore Greta Skarzynski, younger sister of Sophie, had a breakaway.
“We had solid goaltending from Alex, which really helped us out in the last minute (when Yale looked to tie),” the elder Skarzynski said.
Minnesota returns to Minneapolis to finish the first half next weekend, hosting Robert Morris. Friday’s puck drop is 7:00 p.m. while Saturday’s game begins at 1:00 p.m.
“It was a goal of ours to get on a bit of a run after Four Nations (tournament in early November) and we’ve been able to do that offensively and play complete hockey,” said Frost. “Tonight was more of a workman effort to get the sweep on the road.”