HAMDEN, Conn. - Nicole Schammel scored the game-winning goal and Alex Gulstene earned a 15-save shutout as the No. 2 University of Minnesota women's hockey team punched its ticket to Sunday's national championship game with a 2-0 win over Cornell in the NCAA Women's Frozen Four semifinal round at the People's United Center on Friday evening.
Minnesota (32-5-1) now plays for the program's eighth national championship live on the Big Ten Network at 1:30 p.m. CT Sunday. The Gophers face the winner of Friday's second semifinal, which pits No. 1 seed Wisconsin (33-4-2) against No. 4 seed Clarkson (30-7-2), in the NCAA title game.
The Gophers used staunch defense and clutch scoring to seal their 2-0 win over Cornell (24-6-6) as Schammel capitalized on the power play before Sarah Potomak sealed the win with an empty-net goal in the game's final 30 seconds.
Gulstene made 15 saves and the Gophers blocked 30 shots; the Maroon & Gold held a 27-15 advantage in shots on goal for the game. Cornell goaltender Marlene Boissonna made 25 saves to lead the Big Red.
"We're thrilled and so happy to be getting back to the national championship game," head coach Brad Frost said. "Anytime you can be playing on the last day of the season, it's a special moment and a special opportunity. Our kids battled here today. We're a pretty high-scoring team and not really known as much for defending really, really well, but that's exactly what our team did today.
"We wanted to focus on our stick position and blocking shots and just have no regrets by the end of the game. Gully was fantastic in net and we got a big power-play goal from Scham, and then Potomak icing it. Cornell, congratulations to them, they were a great opponent, and it was a very tough game as you saw. We're blessed and thrilled to be headed back to the national championship game."
After a scoreless first period, the Gophers got on the board when Schammel, the WCHA Scoring Champion, netted her 16th goal of the season at the 12:09 mark of the second period. Schammel buried the rebound off a shot by Olivia Knowles on Minnesota's second power play of the game, breaking the scoreless tie midway through the game. Emily Oden also assisted on the play.
Late in the third period, Cornell pulled Boissonnault and Potomak scored her 11th goal of the season with an empty net tally to ice the win. The goal marked Potomak's 12th point in her last seven games (5g-7a).
The Maroon & Gold went one-for-two on the power play while holding the Big Red scoreless on two power-play opportunities, including one in the game's final six minutes. In addition to shutting down Cornell's power play, the Gophers also blocked 15 shots in the third period.
The game began with a relatively even first period with shots on goal tied up at eight apiece at the first intermission. Minnesota's best scoring chance of the first period was a breakaway by Potomak. She had Boissonnault beat, but her shot deflected off the pipe and back out.
Minnesota has won four of the last seven national championships and has seven national titles overall (2000, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016). The team looks for a historic eighth title national crown on Sunday.