MINNEAPOLIS -- If Minnesota Gophers women’s team forward Amy Potomak skates with a black hoodie under her jersey the rest of the season, it might be understandable. Her nod to the frigid weather as the Gophers closed out Hockey Day Minnesota on Saturday evening with an important outdoor win over Ohio State might just be Potomak’s good luck charm as the team chases an eighth NCAA title.
Potomak’s early goal opened the scoring, and freshman Emily Oden scored the eventual game-winner in the second period as the Gophers (20-2-3) earned a weekend split with a 2-1 win over the Buckeyes (14-6-4).
With temperatures in the single digits at the outdoor rink located just west of downtown Minneapolis, and a howling west wind producing a wind chill in the teens below zero, Potomak donned a hoodie under her jersey, with the hood covering the her name on the back. Somehow, it worked.
Potomak said she tried wearing the sweatshirt, with the sleeves cut off, in practice and liked the way it felt. She joked that the hood might be her trademark the rest of the season as the Gophers, who are the defending NCAA runners-up, look to win one more game in March this season.
The Gophers power play, which is statistically second only to Wisconsin in the WCHA, clicked in the first period to get the home team on the board first. Ohio State’s Rebecca Freiberger, who is one of six Minnesotans on the Buckeyes roster, collided hard with Gophers goalie Sydney Scobee on a rush to the net, and went to the penalty box for goaltender interference. With the Gophers controlling the puck, Potomak flipped a wrist shot from the top of the right circle. The puck threaded its way through a crowd and between Buckeyes goalie Andrea Braendli’s stick side and the far post.
SEE ALSO: More photos from the game
Before the first period ended, the Buckeyes drew even when Liz Schepers found Sophie Jacques sneaking behind the Gophers defenders and delivered a cross-ice pass. In alone on Scobee, Jacques popped a rising shot that hit the crossbar behind the goalie and landed over the line for a 1-1 deadlock after one period. The shots were even as well, with 12 for each team. It was the fifth goal of the season for Jacques, and the second of the weekend, after she opened the scoring for the Buckeyes when they beat Minnesota 4-1 on Friday night in a game played indoors at Ridder Arena.
It didn’t take the Gophers long in the second period to re-take the lead. Skating up the left side of the ice, Catie Skaja’s shot went over the Buckeyes net, but the puck hit the end glass and rebounded right to the stick of Emily Oden, who slipped the puck past Braendli for a 2-1 lead. Both teams adjusted to the unique ice conditions as the game went along, with the Gophers able to play a puck possession game to their advantage.
The Gophers, who have the WCHA’s best penalty kill, got a big test late in the game when they were whistled for two minor penalties in the final six minutes. But the Buckeyes could not get the equalizer past Scobee. The Gophers travel to face archrival Wisconsin next weekend.
Hockey Day headed south in 2021
Hockey Day Minnesota began in 2007 within sight of the Canadian border, in Baudette, and has never been held south of the Twin Cities. That all changes a year from now, as officials from Mankato were on hand at the conclusion of the Gophers game to announce that the southern Minnesota city will host Hockey Day 2021.
A rink will be built inside Blakeslee Stadium, the 7,000-seat football facility on the Minnesota State University campus in Mankato, and a hockey village for fans will be located nearby. More details and a full schedule of events will be announced at a later date.
In addition to the first two Hockey Day events in Baudette, the celebration of the game has also been held in St. Paul (twice), Hermantown, Moorhead, Minnetonka, Grand Rapids, Elk River, Duluth, Stillwater, St. Cloud and Bemidji.