UND WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Gophers seal the sweep
Minus three Olympians, the UND women’s hockey team already was at a skill disadvantage against the University of Minnesota this weekend.
That gap was magnified when No. 3 UND was skating down a player against the No. 1 Gophers.
Equipped with more skill and a potent power play, Minnesota handed UND a rare series sweep.
Minnesota freshman Dani Cameranesi scored two power-play goals en route to the Gophers’ 3-1 win over UND on Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
A night after blowing away the school’s all-time attendance record of 5,835, the second night of the rivalry drew 1,856.
Minnesota started the weekend by scoring on its first five power-play chances. The Gophers were 3-for-3 on Friday with the man advantage and 2-for-2 to start Saturday.
“That was a huge difference for us on the weekend,” said Gophers coach Brad Frost, whose team improved to 26-1-1. “Special teams are huge as we get into these big games.”
UND, 16-7-3, was swept for the first time since last Jan. 11-12 at Minnesota. The program hadn’t been swept at home since Oct. 27-28 of last season against Minnesota.
“Our penalty kill tried to make a couple of adjustments, with some of our speed missing up front on the kill,” UND coach Brian Idalski said. “They did a good job attacking. We didn’t do a great job, but I thought we were a little better (than Friday).”
UND killed off the final three penalties of the weekend, but the damage had already been done.
Minnesota, which outshot UND 42-18, led throughout.
Late in the first period, Cameranesi scored her first goal with just 10 seconds left on UM’s first power play. Her shot from the left circle got through traffic and past UND goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie, who finished with a season-high 39 saves.
Cameranesi, who has 14 goals on the year, made it 2-0 at 12:51 of the second period when she punched in a loose puck during a scrum in the crease.
“She’s been great for us,” Frost said. “She was a little frustrated last night. She felt she missed a few chances. But she capitalized tonight. She’s really a complete player for us.”
The Gophers added an insurance goal when Megan Lorence scored after a 2-on-1 chance with Kelly Terry at 4:25 of the third period.
UND escaped the shutout at 16:27 of the third period when Gracen Hirschy’s backhand flip went in the net for her seventh goal of the season.
“All around, I thought we gave a little better effort,” Idalski said. “We know where we’re at. We knew it would be a tough weekend. We got a lot of kids good minutes. That’s a good development opportunity for our younger kids.
“We didn’t sit back and pack it in. We played like we normally play. Right now, that just wasn’t good enough.”
UND travels to Minnesota-Duluth next weekend with three series remaining in the regular season.