Facing two of the top teams in Division I women's hockey, the Whitecaps generated 9 goals on the weekend, but fell to the University of Minnesota Gophers in overtime by the score of 5-4, before defeating the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs 5-2.
U.S. Olympian Kendall Coyne led all Whitecaps on the weekend with 7 points (3G, 4A), while her linemate and former Gopher standout, Hannah Brandt notched 5 points (1G, 4A).
NHL Veteran and current Fox Sports North analyst for the Minnesota Wild, Tom Chorske, was on the bench for the Whitecaps as they faced the defending national champions at Ridder Arena on Friday night. In an entertaining, high-paced game with multiple lead changes, it was the Whitecaps who struck first. At 6:46 of the first period, Winny Brown threaded a long pass to Coyne, springing her on a breakaway. Coyne converted to make it 1-0. The Gophers responded with a goal from Nicole Schammel three minutes later, and then teammate Cara Piazza lit the lamp before the period ended, giving the Gophers a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.
There were two goals scored in the second frame, both by the Whitecaps. Becky Kortum found the back of the net on a rush at 4:44 after receiving a pass from Meaghan Pezon. Then midway through the period, defenseman Chelsey Rosenthal scored, giving the Whitecaps a 3-2 lead. Brandt and Coyne assisted on the go-ahead goal.
In the third, Stephanie Anderson increased the Whitecaps' lead to 4-2 on a long blast at 1:25 of the period. Defenseman Rose Alleva was credited with the assist. But on the next shift, the Gophers answered, as Kipper Keller beat goaltender Alex Rigby, pulling to within one. Gopher Taylor Williamson then converted at 6:40 on the only power play of the game to tie the score at four, eventually sending it into overtime.
The extra session saw both teams get good chances, and it appeared the game may end in a tie. However, with 38.9 seconds remaining, Olympian Lee Stecklein was able to seal the win for the Gophers on a scramble in front of the net. Total shots on goal were 37-31 in favor of the Gophers, and Rigby had 32 saves in the loss.
On the following day in Duluth, the Whitecaps bounced back. The line of Brandt, Coyne and Anderson were impressive, using their speed and skill to get four of the five Whitecaps goals. After a scoreless first period, the Whitecaps outscored UMD 3-0 in the second. It was another U.S. Olympian, defenseman Monique Lamoureux-Morando, who opened the scoring at 4:11 on a slapshot from the blue line. Brandt and Coyne assisted on the goal. Three minutes later, Brandt showed great patience as she beat goaltender Maddie Rooney with a nice move in tight, giving the Whitecaps a 2-0 lead. Rosenthal assisted on the play. It was then Anderson's turn at 11:27 on a breakaway, with assists going to Coyne and Lamoureux-Morando.
The Whitecaps got their fourth consecutive goal 47 seconds into the third period when Coyne got her first of the game as she buried a shot after Brandt stole the puck in the Bulldogs end. UMD responded with their first score of the game by Sydney Brodt, but Coyne tallied again, converting a nice feed from Lamoureux-Morando. Brandt also picked up an assist on the play. Bulldog Demi Crossman scored late in the game to make the final 5-2. UMD outshot the Whitecaps 37-26 in the game. Shelby Amsley-Benzie picked up the win in goal for the Whitecaps, making 35 saves.
Gopher box scores are attached.
The Whitecaps will host Shattuck-St.Mary's at Ridder Arena on Saturday, Jan. 14th at 3 pm and Sunday, Jan. 15th at noon. Admission is free and the team will be signing autographs after each game.
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Photo credit: Mike Thill