Gophers escapes from St. Thomas in the first meeting of the programs – Twin Cities

The women’s hockey team from Minnesota and St. Thomas played for the first time last Saturday as the Tommies this season take the giant leap from Division III MIAC to the best conference in Division I, WCHA.

Gophers welcomed their newest, closest rival with 58 shots on goal.

“It was fun,” said St. Thomas goalkeeper Alexa Dobchuck.

Most, if not all, goalkeepers would not believe it, but 2021-2022 has been a fun season for St. Louis. Thomas, who rides on the wave of a unique opportunity and enjoys step-by-step improvements.

Minnesota's Savannah Norcross scorer
Savannah Norcross, center, scores past St. Thomas goalkeeper Alexa Dobchuck on a cross-fold pass to end a two-on-one with Amy Potomak and make it 2-0 at. 4:55 in the first period of the fifth-ranked Gophers’ 8-0 victory on Saturday at Ridder Arena. (Brad Rempel / Gophers Athletics)

Dobchuk stopped 50 shots in Minnesota’s 8-0 win at the Knights Arena, the first game in a home-and-home series that continues at 6 p.m. 14.00 Sunday in St. Thomas Ice Arena. Maybe.

Both teams were without key players on Saturday after the COVID test. Gophers pulled two off the ice during the warm-up and played much of Saturday’s game with four on the blue line.

“We’ll see where it all ends,” Gopher’s coach Brad Frost said.

Both teams await test results Sunday morning.

“Things change from hour to hour,” said Marty Sertich, one of two assistants running the Tommies program while Joel Johnston coaches the U.S. Olympic team. “We definitely plan to play tomorrow.”

The fifth-ranked Gophers (15-5-1, 10-4-1 WCHA) are eager to keep the momentum they have been running since recovering from a 1-3 start. Saturday was their first game since a 2-1 win over Minnesota Duluth No. 8 on December 11th. COVID issues derailed Gophers’ 2020-21 season with player absenteeism and schedule issues. Eventually, Minnesota was shut out of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006-07.

That is hardly the case this season. Minnesota already has victories over the Bulldogs, top-ranked Wisconsin and third-ranked Colgate. Gophers jumped out on Saturday with a 4-0 lead in the first period after goals from Madeline Wethington, Savannah Norcross, Abigail Boreen and Peyton Hemp and kept the pressure going all night.

“It felt good,” said Abigail Boreen, who scored two goals. “We came back for training last Saturday and we got straight to it. In the second half we have to get started.”

Norcross finished with two goals and Wethington added two assists. Ella Huber and Amy Potomak also scored goals for Gophers, and Maggie Nicholson had three assists.

Still, Tommies felt OK afterwards. They were down 4-0 after two periods and were happy to be better on Sunday. They are 4-14-1, 2-12-1 in WCHA, but they enjoy the trip and are optimistic about the future.

“The second period we went. We had to,” said Tommy’s sophomore Breija Parent, who played his first game since moving to Minnesota Duluth. “And we have so much more to come. Each period we got better and if we play as we can, I think it could be a different match. I think we will learn from today and improve a lot. ”

Dobchuk, a junior from Eden Prairie, stopped pretty much every kind of shot that is – punches, wrists, outbursts, deflections and three-of-a-kind. Midway through the first period, Minnesota had a small lead in shots on goal, 7-6, but by the end of the game it was 58-16 Gophers.

“We’ve had a month’s break and … had the captain’s drills because the coaches could not be on the ice,” Dobchuk said. “Everyone bought in and worked hard, and I think that’s what our team is all about.

“Yeah, everyone has a mixed set of backgrounds, but we’re going to work hard, we’re going to show up every day, and we’ll do it extra little, and if you fumble the puck, it’s going to be all over the place. I think that’s something we can expect for the rest of the season. ”

This weekend marks the end of a glove of 10 matches against royalty by women hockey, the best teams in the nation’s best conference: No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Minnesota and No. 8 Minnesota Duluth. Tommies is 0-9 against the four teams, scoring 54-5, but there have also been victories in there – in the standings and elsewhere.

“Of course we did not know what to expect at the beginning of the year. But from day 1, it has been a really special group with an incredible work ethic and attitude, no matter what, ”said Sertich. “We have had so many small victories along the way and I am not talking about victories and losses – although we have had a few victories where it was fantastic. But the gratitude for being a part of this program and this adventure has been so much fun to be a part of, and it is led by these players. ”

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