Kessel and Gophers stay unbeaten with win over North Dakota

The University of Minnesota women’s hockey team wasted little time in Friday’s series opener against the University of North Dakota. Junior Amanda Kessel scored just 24 seconds into the first period to give Minnesota the lead — the No. 1 team in the nation never looked back.

The Gophers were out shot 13-to-10 in the game’s first period, but some big saves from Minnesota senior goaltender Noora Räty kept UND off the score sheet.

Freshmen forward Hannah Brandt also scored for the Maroon and Gold in the opening stanza. Kessel earned an assist on the Brandt goal as well as sophomore forward Meghan Lorence. The Mounds View, Minn. native ended the night with four total assists.

Minnesota kept things rolling in the second period with two goals. Junior forward Kelly Terry recorded an unassisted goal as she sent a shot towards the net from behind the goal line. The puck deflected off North Dakota goalie Jorid Dagfinrud and made its way into the back of the net.

Kessel would add her second goal of the game — this time on the power play. UND senior Monique Lamoureux was called for a hooking-minor and Kessel capitalized with blast from the left wing circle. Brandt and senior Megan Bozek were awarded assists on the Kessel goal.

UND switched goalies for the final period of play bringing in Warroad, Minn. native Shelby Amsley-Benzie. The switch didn’t stop the Gophers scoring though.

Kessel found the back of the net for the third time in the game to record the hat trick at the 3:21 mark of the third period. The hat trick was Kessel’s third of the season and eighth of her career.

The visitors from UND kept things interesting later in the third period after Minnesota took back-to-back penalties to give North Dakota a 5-on-3 advantage. UND sophomore forward Michelle Karvinen scored with the two-player advantage and freshmen Meghan Dufault added another just as the last penalty expired.

The two goals did not deter the Gophers from scoring more in the border battle. Kessel scored her fourth goal of the game at the 17:34 of the final period to push her season scoring total to 59 points in 20 total games.

Dufault and UND would add a very late score to make it 6-3, but Minnesota still earned the victory and advance to 21-0-0 on the season. The team is now four wins or ties away from setting the NCAA women’s hockey record for longest win streak.

After the game Minnesota head coach Brad Frost commented: “I think we gave them some hope at the end of the game and some hope going in to tomorrow’s game” said Frost in regards to allowing three late goals to UND.

The series finale is set for 4:07 p.m. CT tomorrow at Ridder Arena. North Dakota will need that hope as the Gophers will likely shake off some more of the rust from the holiday break and continue to roll in 2013.

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