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Minnesota Thankful for Special Teams at Windjammer Classic

Gopher women won 8-2 despite many penalties, including two 5-on-3 situations, and scored shorthanded twice against St. Lawrence. Kelly Pannek had a hat trick and Sophie Skarzynski netted two goals.

The Gophers spent a lot of the game celebrating, as they beat St. Lawrence 8-2.
Cat Lenander

This year the Gophers were thankful on the road as they celebrated Thanksgiving in Burlington, Vermont. However, their opponents Friday afternoon were not the Catamounts, but the eighth ranked St. Lawrence Saints, as Minnesota was participating in the Windjammer Classic at the Gutterson Fieldhouse. For the game St. Lawrence had Grace Harrison in goal, while Alex Gulstene was between the pipes for Minnesota.

There was a lot of back and forth in the first several minutes of the game with both teams putting up shot attempts, though very little actually reached the goaltenders. Sarah Potomak carried the puck up the right side and passed it to Kelly Pannek in the slot for a shot, but Harrison stopped it cold. Emily Brown took Rachael Smith off her skates, earning a checking penalty in the process at 6:45. Taylor Heise made a breakaway shorthanded attempt, but got her shot blocked by Jacquie Diffley. Nadine Edney took a slashing penalty at 10:48. Gophers cycled the puck, shot, and made a little chaos, but the Saints killed the penalty.

Edney came blasting into Minnesota’s zone and in the process drew two penalties—Crystalyn Hengler for interference when Edney crashed under her and Nicole Schammel for slashing—at 15:43. Despite being on a 5-on-3 penalty, kill Taylor Wente blocked a shot, caught the loose puck, and flew down the center to score shorthanded on the doorstep at 16:54. As the penalties continued the Saints put some pretty serious shots on goal and had Gulstene down and flailing in her crease, but the Gophers killed both penalties.

Back to full strength Taylor Williamson carried the puck in on the left side, passed the Alex Woken, who tapped it in from the bottom of the right circle at 18:40. Then Harrison took a tripping penalty at 18:59, which Smith served in her place. The Minnesota power play carried over into second period before expiring.

Sophie Skarzynski scored at 4:48 thanks to a little help from teammates Gracie Ostertag and Abigail Boreen. Edney crashed straight into Minnesota’s crease, but Gulstene still stopped Stephanie Voge’s shot, which occurred at the same time. Boreen then earned a tripping penalty at 9:06. Patti Marshall joined her teammate in the box at 10:25 for interference, putting the Gophers on another 5-on-3 PK. Minnesota managed to kill the first penalty, but a flurry of shots from just outside the crease eventually lead to a possible goal at 11:52. Play went under review, though the original on ice call was no goal, and eventually declared good. Edney had the goal with assists by Kalie Grant and Justine Reyes.

Not to be deterred, Gophers continued the press and Olivia Knowles put one in the back of the net at 12:51 as she flew past the crease. Schammel and Pannek assisted. Gophers put up quite a lot of offense until Amy Potomak got caught checking at 17:31. The loss of a skater did not hamper the Gophers, as they kept shooting on Harrison and Pannek still nearly scored shorthanded at the crease. Then her teammates reset the attempt without leaving the zone, and Pannek tipped in Knowles’s shot at 18:45. Marshall had the second assist and Minnesota killed the penalty.

Third period Gophers picked up right where they left off. With just a bit more work Pannek netted her second of the game when she deflected Marshall’s shot into goal from the crease at 1:45. Sarah Potomak also assisted. As soon as play resumed Minnesota was back on the attack and Heise nearly scored from within the crease. Puck cycling ended when Skarzynski scored with a left point shot through traffic at 4:14. Schammel and Ostertag assisted. The Saints finally got to put some offense on goal after that. Quite a few shots went wide or got blocked, but when Lydia Grauer shot wide, Smith was on the backdoor and knocked it home before Gulstene could finish sliding across the crease at 7:39. Maggie McLaughlin had the second assist.

Game intensity diminished for a bit after that. Both teams created some chances, which were handily halted and Gulstene eventually covered a decent shot by Reyes. Then the Gophers went back on the attack with Marshall making a blast that went just wide of the net. About a minute later Pannek shot from the left circle, off a feed from Knowles, and scored her hat trick over Harrison at 15:19. Emily Oden made a beeline for the crease and eventually got halted at it by two Saint defenders as Harrison stopped the shot. The Saints didn’t get another chance on goal as the Gophers continued pelting Harrison until the final whistle.

Minnesota’s captain, Kelly Pannek (19) scored three goals in today’s game, the last of which looked about as awesome as this goal Pannek made against Mercyhurst on September 28th.

Minnesota beat St. Lawrence 8-2 and outshot them 43-18. Gophers play again tomorrow, though the exact time or opponent is still unknown. That will be decided in about two and a half hours after the Vermont v Syracuse game wraps up. That game, like the one that just concluded and probably tomorrow’s as well, will be free to watch on Catamount TV and puck drops at 5:55 pm CST.

Edit: As Vermont beat Syracuse 2-0 Minnesota will play Vermont at 6 pm CST to determine the winner of this year’s Windjammer Classic. Syracuse and St. Lawrence face off in a consolation match at 2:55 pm CST. Both games will be streamed on Vermont’s streaming system with live states, though only the Minnesota-Vermont game is expected to have commentary.