She might as well have wagged her finger after every shot Ohio State took. Minnesota goaltender Noora Räty pitched her fourth shutout in a row, proving she knows how to turn it up a notch at the end of the season. Noora allowed just one goal in four games at last year's WCHA playoffs, but could best that this year. Minnesota got two goals from freshman Maryanne Menefee on the offensive side to give Minnesota the 5-0 victory. The Gophers will now face North Dakota in the title game. UND won 2-1 over Wisconsin in the early game.
The game started slow for Minnesota on offense until the first power play of the game. The Gophers made OSU pay, like so many other teams, with a power play goal. A blast from Milica McMillen was redirected out in front by Menefee past Chelsea Knapp to give Minnesota the lead. They never looked back. Minnesota doubled their lead when Baylee Gillanders found Hannah Brandt on the back door for her 30th of the season. It was a strong start for Minnesota and it showed in the shot department as well, 12-5.
Mira Jalosuo got the only goal of the second period. She put a wrist shot past Knapp from back by the blue line. It was her 10th of the season, giving Minnesota a 3-0 lead. Ohio State had a few power plays with which to work with, but couldn't get anything past Räty. The Gophers added a lot of shots to their power plays, but couldn't add on anymore goals. Shots favored Minnesota, 26-14, after two periods.
Menefee struck again for Minnesota when she received a great pass from Hannah Brandt and put it past Knapp. It was the freshman's second of the game and 25th of the season. The Gophers got their final goal on a giant blast from Megan Bozek. Number 19 got her 19th of the season and gave Minnesota a 5-0 lead. Bozek really seemed to be shooting with a purpose on this night. The sound of her shot inside Ridder was telling of that.
The dominance of these WCHA playoffs by the Gophers and Räty is a welcome sign. Minnesota had shown signs of being human during the end of the season, but I think this new season has energized the top ranked team.
Next up is North Dakota. The WCHA title game is at 7pm at Ridder. This is the fifth straight title game appearance for the Gophers.
To see the boxscore, go here.
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