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Freshmen Win Windjammer Classic for Minnesota

Four goals came from freshmen in Minnesota’s 6-2 win over Vermont for the Windjammer Classic Championship game.

Freshman Taylor Heise had 1 goal and 2 assists in Minnesota’s 6-2 victory over Vermont, which included four different rookie scorers.
Cat Lenander

Neither team in this year’s Windjammer Classic final has ever won the championship. This is unsurprising for Minnesota, as this is their first appearance in the classic, but Vermont has played all four years the Windjammer Classic has existed and this is their third attempt for a title. Not long after the game started Catie Skaja redirected Emily Brown’s shot past goaltender Melissa Black into goal at 1:13. Kelly Pannek had the second assist. Gophers stayed on the attack and quickly caused a mess in the crease. Minnesota barely allowed Vermont in their zone, much less any shots on net, which meant Alex Gulstene didn’t face her first shots until Olivia Kilberg came down the right side five minutes in and then Gulstene had to slide across the crease to fend off the rebound as well.

Alyssa Gorecki puts a couple of nice attempts on goal as the Catamounts trap the Gophers in their zone in the second half of the period. Then Khristina Shannahan tied the game at 12:51 thanks to an assist by Anna Erickson. Alyssa Holmes took a tripping penalty at 13:50. Minnesota kept trying to slip the puck in through the backdoor on the power play, but couldn’t manage it. Alex Woken was sent to the box for tripping at 16:55. The Catamounts were relentless and Gulstene really had to move to keep the PK going. Then right as the penalty was about to expire Nicole Schammel carried the puck up the right side and passed to Taylor Heise for the tip in at 18:58. The goal went under replay, but was determined to be good.

In the dying seconds of the period Emily Oden went for tripping at 19:34 and Gorecki received a checking penalty for knocking Sophie Skarzynski down at 19:50. Second period started with 4-on-4 hockey and that lasted until the first penalty expired and the second soon followed. Woken nearly scored, but shot wide of the net. Still, Minnesota was trying to get some offense going and had a great chance until Taylor Wente got knocked into the goal crease just as Grace Zumwinkle shot wide. Amy Potomak tossed the puck at the net from the doorstep and while Black managed to touch it, it still landed in the back of the net at 6:54. Heise and Oden assisted.

There’s some back and forth rink racing with the Gophers getting shots off when they were on the attack. Gorecki had a solid chance just before Potomak couldn’t quite tip in Oden’s shot on goal. That line kept pressing and later when they were back on the ice Potomak fed the puck to Heise at the crease and she quickly tapped it right to Oden for a goal at 14:40. Immediately after Black had already gone down for the save and just as Abigail Boreen tried to skate around her for the goal the puck slipped off her stick causing her to miss the shot. At the end of the period Gorecki made a shot from the left circle straight into Gulstene’s glove. There’s an absolute mess in the Catamounts’ crease in the last seconds of the period before play was whistled down.

The Catamounts came out flying third period. They started piling up shots as they trapped the Gophers in their zone for most of the first five minutes of the period. Gophers started getting a little offense going, but then Patti Marshall earned a delayed holding penalty that kicked in after Gorecki shot through Gulstene’s 5-hole to score unassisted at 6:44. Vermont couldn’t get any shots off, much less convert on the power play. Killing the penalty was exactly what Minnesota needed, as it got them back on the attack. Pannek got the puck from Skarzynski at the left circle and was able to trick Black into committing before she shot into the back of the net at 9:49. Taylor Williamson assisted as well.

Gophers continued to control play. Shannahan did manage to carry the puck in and around Minnesota’s zone and then back out again after a large loop without getting a shot. A lot of play occurred in the middle of the zone as the teams raced back and forth across the ice. Then near the end of the period after some fairly low intensity play Kate Robinson—who had been playing as a forward all evening—came down the right, caught a pass from Skaja, and banged the puck home at 18:07. In the last seconds of the period Potomak nearly tipped in Heise’s shot, but the Gophers couldn’t score again. Minnesota beat Vermont 6-2 after outshooting them 39-21 and taking their first Windjammer Classic.