Sophomore forward Amanda Kessel posts fourth hat trick of season for Golden Gophers

Amanda Kessel had a hat trick for the Golden Gophers

The Golden Gopher women's hockey team earned a 6-0 shutout against St. Cloud State, earning a spot in the WCHA Final Faceoff next weekend. Sophomore Amanda Kessel had three goals in the game, while senior Emily West added two goals. Senior Jen Schoullis recorded three points in the game with three assists.

On a power play eight minutes into the game, senior Emily West put the Gophers on the scoreboard on a goal assisted by sophomore Kelly Terry and freshman Rachel Ramsey. The power play goal came during the only penalty of the first period. Sophomore Amanda Kessel made it 2-0 for Minnesota with a goal four minutes later. Freshman Rachael Bona and senior Kelly Seeler had assists on Kessel's goal. West found the net again with three minutes remaining in the period, sending Minnesota to intermission with a three goal lead. Senior Sarah Erickson had the assist on West's second goal of the game. St. Cloud State put just two shots on goal in the opening period to Minnesota's 21.

Both teams were scoreless in the third period, with the Gophers continuing to have an advantage in shots on goal. In the second period, the Gophers tallied nine shots to three for the Huskies. Each team had one power play chance with each team putting one shot on goal during power play opportunities.

The Gophers added three goals in the third period. Amanda Kessel scored seven minutes into the period while Kelly Terry was in the penalty box, getting her first shorthanded goal of the season. Jen Schoullis had the assist. Kessel and Schoullis teamed up again six minutes later, giving Minnesota a 5-0 lead on a goal by Kessel. Kelly Seeler also assisted on Kessel's goal. The goal came just seconds after St. Cloud State switched goalies and put senior Tayler VanDenakker into the game. VanDenakker was replaced after just 21 seconds and one goal against as Julie Friend went back into the net after Kessel scored. With her third goal of the game, Kessel earned her fourth hat trick this season.

In the last two minutes of play, freshman Meghan Lorence scored a goal to put the Gophers ahead 6-0 where the score would remain. Schoullis and Bethany Brausen had assists on Lorence's goal.

Minnesota goalie Noora Raty got her eighth shutout of the season and 24th of her career with the win. Raty has a 28-5-2 record in net this season.

Minnesota tallied 47 shots on goal in the game, compared to just 15 for the Huskies. The Gophers now have a record of 29-5-2 and 22-5-2 in WCHA games. St. Cloud State ended its season with a 5-29-2 overall record and 4-25-0 in the WCHA.

With the win, the Gophers have qualified for the WCHA Final Faceoff and will face North Dakota in the semifinals on Friday, March 2 at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minn. Minnesota Duluth has also secured a spot in the WCHA Final Faceoff, and Wisconsin is leading the series against Minnesota State. The WCHA tournament final will be Saturday, March 3.