Friday’s game in Mankato marked the return of Kate Schipper and Cara Piazza to Minnesota’s bench. As soon as the puck dropped the Gophers were on the attack. Nicole Schammel set up Sophie Skarzynski just in front of Brianna Quade’s crease and Skarzynski scored at 2:05. Lee Stecklein had the second assist. Seconds later, Schipper was downed along the backboards, but Sarah Potomak caught her now loose puck. Potomak carried it past the back of the net before passing it forward to Kelly Pannek, who then scored from just left of the crease at 3:00. Minnesota State immediately used their timeout, since this was not how the Mavericks expected the game to start.
Once play resumed Minnesota continued buzzing around Quade, though their shots were often blocked or went wide. Maverick Sara Bustad had a good chance on goaltender Sidney Peters and then another two chances a couple minutes later. Still, the puck spent most of the period on Gopher sticks, which included when Taylor Williamson accidentally ran into a referee. Minnesota State made a few more attempted shots in the last minutes of the period and then at the very end Caitlin Reilly had a great chance from the side, but the period ended with all the scoring in the first three minutes.
Mankato came out shooting second period, but Peters caught everything that reached her net. Then there was a delayed Maverick penalty and Minnesota had an empty net from 3:53 to 4:16, which was when Jordan McLaughlin made a trip to the box for hooking. The Gophers cycled the puck until Pannek shot from the left side, which Quade blocked, but didn’t corral. Megan Wolfe caught the rebound on the right side, slapped it back on goal, and it again rebounded, this time to Potomak, who finally put it away at 5:09. Even back on even strength play Minnesota continued hammering MSU.
Katie Robinson took a checking penalty at 10:24. The Mavericks repeatedly shot on their power play, but it harmlessly expired two minutes later. Then there was a beautiful tic-tac-toe pass, which ended with Piazza scoring from Quade’s doorstep at 13:10. Schipper and Pannek had the assists. Potomak carried the puck up the left side, fed the puck to Schipper between the circles, and Schipper flipped the puck past Quade on the backhand at 15:35 as the goalie slide the wrong way in the crease. Sydney Baldwin had the second assist. Minnesota hung on to the puck for the rest of the period, but that was the last time they found the back of the net.
To start third period Minnesota replaced Peters with Serena D’Angelo in goal. The rest of the team continued dominating puck possession, though now the Mavericks were occasionally getting the puck. Potomak and Williamson made a great multi-shot effort to increase Minnesota’s lead, but they couldn’t get past Quade this time. 13 minutes in D’Angelo came out from the pipes to block an Anna-Maria Fiegert shot and practice being a more aggressive goalie. Schipper took a hooking penalty at 15:57, but the Gophers handily killed it. As the period wound down Schammel nearly scored, but Quade managed to catch the shot between her body and elbow. With D’Angelo making three saves to Quade’s ten this period, neither goalie allowed a goal this period, but it was Minnesota who came away with the 5-0 win and the shutout.
Saturday saw the same starting goaltenders between the pipes, but Mankato completely scrambled their lines. Even with the changes Minnesota still started the game putting shots on goal. A combined attack from Patti Marshall and Schipper almost scored then a little later Pannek was crosschecked at the crease without a call. A Maverick turned the puck over to Potomak and she passed it to Schipper, who scored at 6:50. This opened the floodgates, as seconds later an unassisted Williamson drove the puck into goal, high on Quade’s glove side, from the dot at 7:23. Then at 7:43 Skarzynski scored, assists to Lindsay Agnew and Marshall, with the puck bouncing under Quade’s right arm into goal.
For the second game in a row MSU used their timeout early in the first period. However, this time it didn’t slow the scoring as Pannek five-holed the puck at 8:21, registering Minnesota’s fourth goal in 91 seconds. Schipper and Baldwin assisted. Then McLaughlin got Mankato’s first shot on goal, but right after Peters made the save Bustad collided with her. This sent Bustad to the box for goaltender interference at 9:23. The Gophers rained shots on the crease during their power play, but they were unable to convert. Demi Gardner and Piazza collided. A little later Anna Keys streaked down the left side and shot, but it went wide.
At 17:44 Baldwin took a roughing penalty for checking Gardner. Despite the penalty, Schipper was in MSU’s zone with the puck until Lindsey Coleman tripped her, but Pannek caught the puck and put it into the netting—no goal. Coleman’s actions earned her a penalty at 18:07, which put the teams on 4-on-4 play until the Minnesota penalty expired. This left Minnesota with a short power play, which was chopped in two by intermission, and it harmlessly expired seven seconds into third period. Right after the Mavericks were back to full strength, Megan Hinze hit the ice awkwardly when she got tangled with Piazza. Hinze stayed down, clearly injured, and after being checked by a trainer, was carefully carried off the ice on a stretcher. Unsurprisingly, this injury took a lot of the game’s energy out of its sails, as no one likes to see a player hurt.
Outside of a great chance by Pannek that just went over the net, the first half of second period was a series of attempted shots by Minnesota. In the second half, Schipper picked up Potomak’s loose puck and her wrister hit the crossbar before sliding into goal at 12:18. Then Schammel drove to the net, got Quade to commit and then shot, but somehow her backhand didn’t go into the open net. The Gophers continued buzzing, but eventually left the puck loose along the boards. That was when Jordan Jackson picked it up, carried it up the side, and shot from the right circle dot to score her first collegiate goal, unassisted, at 14:21. Then Baldwin took an interference penalty at 18:14, which the Gophers killed in third period.
Before they killed the penalty third period, Minnesota replaced Peters in goal with Emma May. Due to the goal disparity, Minnesota started playing their lower lines more, which also opened them up to more Maverick scoring chances. They finally succeeded when a long range shot by McLaughlin found the back of the net at 6:19. Bustad and Keys assisted. After that the Mavericks spent more ice time in Minnesota’s zone, in large part because they Gophers weren’t hustling like they had earlier in the game. Keys rubbed Agnew into the boards. Then Reilly tripped Gardener and had to sit for two at 10:56.
Just before the penalty was to expire, Piazza had the puck in MSU’s zone and Emma Wittchow tripped her at 12:50. However, instead of assigning a normal penalty, the referees awarded Minnesota a penalty shot—their second in two weeks. Piazza took the shot, but she couldn’t get past Quade’s glove; to be fair, the Gophers haven’t scored on a penalty shot since 2012. Minnesota attacked late in the period after a Maverick flurry, but they spent the final minute on defense. Sofia Poinar made a long shot on goal, which Stecklein blocked at the crease. This left it bouncing around so that Steph Keryluk and Fiegert both put it on goal, which May blocked, before Gardner knocked it in at 19:30. That was the end of Mankato’s third period comeback and Minnesota won 5-3, completing the sweep.