The Minnesota Golden Gophers took a step towards the WCHA Final Five with a 5-0 win over Bemidji State on Friday night in Ridder Arena. Three of the five goals came off of defenseman's sticks to help fill the void left by Amanda Kessel, who saw the ice mostly on power plays. Megan Bozek had two goals in the third period as Minnesota pulled away from the pesky Beavers. Noora Räty had 20 saves to get her 14th shutout of the year and record breaking 40 of her career.
The first period looked an awful lot like the last game that Minnesota and Bemidji State played. BSU took the Gophers to overtime in that game and this one started off with the same feel. BSU was able to block shots and then pick their spots to come out offensively. Minnesota held a slight advantage in shots after one period, 9-6. Minnesota also had three chances on the power play, one abbreviated, but could not convert.
In the second, Minnesota would get on the board. Mira Jalosuo got her ninth goal of the season on a blast from the blue line through a lot of traffic. Rachael Bona and Hannah Brandt would assist on the goal. Minnesota seemed to really feed off that goal and really peppered BSU goalie Jessica Havel throughout the period. They would not score for the rest of the period, but it felt like a different team and a different game. Shots after two periods favored Minnesota 27-12.
The third period the goals kept coming. Megan Bozek started the goal party by following her own shot and putting one in past Havel from in close. Kelly Terry would get a power play goal for the Gophers when she redirected a blast from Rachel Ramsey right in front of Havel. It was her eighth of the season, giving Minnesota a 3-0 lead. Bona would get her 14th goal when she made a sweet little move to deke Havel and put it past her close range. Bozek would add her second goal of the night and 17th of the season to finish out the scoring. Gophers dominate the third to get a much derserved 5-0 victory. More importanly, the Gophers now have a 1-0 series lead with a chance to close out BSU with a win on Saturday. Game time is 4pm.
The Gophers had too much offense for the Beavers to deal with, having to defend most of the night with no chance for offense of their own. So much of this game is momentum and the Gophers found their's after the Jalosuo goal.
Congrats again to Noora Räty, who seems to re-write the record books every day. She is making sure Jessie Vetter did not exist. Vetter's record for career shutouts is down and is now tied with her for most shutouts in a single season with 14. What an amazing career for Noora...so far. She still has more work to do.
To see the boxscore, go here.
In other WCHA playoff action:
-North Dakota had little trouble beating Minnesota State, 6-1 in Grand Forks. UND had 6 different goal scorers.
-Wisconsin shut out St. Cloud State, 5-0. The Badgers continue to own SCSU, beating them for the 15th straight time.
-Ohio State continued a trend by beating Minnesota-Duluth in Duluth. The home team has not won a game in this series all year long. 4-2 final for OSU.
Thanks for reading!