After weeks away the Gophers finally dropped the puck for game play at Ridder Arena. This time it was against the Minnesota Whitecaps, a professional women’s team composed mostly of former DI players, in an exhibition game that was added at the last minute to the schedule. While the Whitecaps are a team that’s never the same to play twice—large roster varies greatly from game to game thanks to players having other personal and professional commitments that aren’t pressing in the same fashion during DI play—the composition was significantly different thanks to the many missing Olympic team members/hopefuls.
Right off the bat Sydney Baldwin had a shot clink off the post of Whitecaps goaltender Julie Friend’s net. Then Olivia Knowles’s shot from the right circle rolled over Friend’s shoulder into and goal at 2:24. Taylor Wente and Baldwin assisted. Then the puck came off the Whitecaps’ backboards to the crease and while Friend immediately covered the puck, a Gopher came nosing around and got shoved down for her efforts. Grace Zumwinkle tried the first of many slap shots this evening and hit Friend’s central mass in the process.
Lisa Martinson made a blue line shot that hit Marley McMillan as she stood just in front of Gopher goaltender Sidney Peters and if she had backed up at all the puck would have flown into the net instead of going wide. Amy Menke attempted a wrap around, which went wide. Wente charged down the center, as Nicole Schammel carried the puck along the left side, and caught a laser pass for the tip in behind the goaltender at 10:54. Zumwinkle had the second assist. Kippin Keller shot on goal and then immediately tumbled into it with Winny Brown. Late in the period Cara Piazza made an unassisted run down the left side and slipped the puck into goal just under Friend’s arm at 17:34. Knowles went to the box for hooking at 18:01, but the Gophers kept the Whitecaps on the defensive and the penalty harmlessly expired a second into second period.
Baldwin tumbled over Knowles into the Gopher crease early in the second period and then Kate Schipper scored from the right side at 43 seconds. Lauren Barnes assisted. Schammel had to sit for two for tripping at 2:37 and on their power play Menke nearly scored on the right side, but the Whitecaps couldn’t convert. Zumwinkle and Brown collided along the boards, which sent the former spinning off the boards, while the latter tumbled along them. Schammel made a great attempt down the center and then the Gophers made quite a few solid point shots through traffic as part of an extended flurry. Kelly Steeler made a left point shot, which Barnes caught just outside the crease and twisted to drive it home into the bottom right pocket from the left side at 10:21. Menke had the second assist.
At this goal the Gophers replaced Peters in net with Alex Gulstene and as soon as she was between the pipes Margo Lund rocketed a puck from the slot straight into her mask. Caitlin Reilly attempted a shot after coming in down the center, but she lost the puck as bodies went down at the crease. However, Alex Woken swooped in from behind to bang it into Friend and despite the goaltender’s best attempts, the puck flipped over her and tumbled down her back into goal at 13:38. As the Gophers celebrated Friend hit the glass in frustration over that fumbled puck. Brown then tripped Woken, which also caused a couple more bodies to hit the ice, and went to the box at 19:03. On the power play Sophie Skarzynski passed from the goal line to Woken for a tip in on the left side, scoring her second of the game at 19:54. Baldwin also assisted.
Third period the Gophers had a great attempt then Emma Stauber made a middling one when she slide the puck on net from the right side and Gulstene covered. The Whitecaps nearly scored on a lucky shot, which unfortunately for them went just wide of the net. Then a pass from the left side into the crease went into goal past Friend off a Gopher kick and was immediately declared a no goal for that reason at 11: 21, though the officials still took a minute to review it.
Stauber and Zumwinkle took a tumble together as they both raced toward the Whitecaps net, but there wasn’t a call. However, Menke was sent to the box for tripping at 16:53. Lund made a solid push into the Gophers zone for a shortie attempt, but the penalty ended before either team could score. In the last thirty seconds of the game the Whitecaps had a solid flurry that ended with Gulstene butterflied as she covered the puck. With shots 38-25 in their favor, the Minnesota Gophers beat the Minnesota Whitecaps 5-2.