MINNEAPOLIS -- The No. 2 University of Minnesota women's hockey team used two goals each from Grace Zumwinkle and Taylor Heise along with 22 saves from Sydney Scobee to secure a 5-1 victory over St. Cloud State in the championship game of the inaugural Minnesota Cup on Sunday evening at Ridder Arena.
Minnesota (19-2-1, 9-2-1-0 WCHA) defeated Minnesota Duluth by a score of 4-3 in overtime to advance to the championship game while St. Cloud State (7-16-2, 2-12-0-0 WCHA) knocked off Minnesota State in a 1-0 shootout win after their semifinal game ended in a 2-2 overtime tie on Saturday. The Bulldogs won the third-place game with a comeback win over the Mavericks, scoring four third-period goals for a 5-3 win after the Mavericks took a 3-1 lead into the third period.
"Good effort here tonight," head coach Brad Frost said. "We were able to sustain offensive pressure and defended much better tonight than we did yesterday. It's fun to be the champions of the inaugural Minnesota Cup. We had a great crowd this weekend, and they were able to watch some really good hockey and four competitive games. It was fun to see, we were glad to be a part of it, and was all-around a great way to start 2019."
On the way to winning the inaugural Minnesota Cup, the Gophers took an early 2-0 lead over the Huskies and never looked back. Minnesota got on the board first when Emily Brown fired a shot from the point through traffic, and Nicole Schammel got a piece of it before Taylor Wente redirected it past SCSU's Janine Alder to put the Gophers up 1-0 at the 4:16 mark of the opening period. Taylor Heise then doubled the lead just 1:35 later when she scored on a rush with Emily Oden. Crystalyn Henger picked up the second assist on the play, and the Maroon & Gold took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
The second period saw the teams trade goals as Zumwinkle scored on the power play to extend the Gophers' lead to three at the 8:36 mark before SCSU's Abby Thiessen scored her sixth goal of the year to make it 3-1 at the 9:32 mark of the middle frame. Zumwinkle then netted her second of the game and team-leading 16th goal of the season just 48 seconds into the third period to regain the three-goal lead at 4-1, and Heise scored her second of the game with an empty-net goal with 1:39 remaining as Minnesota cruised to victory.
"It's exciting to win for our team after we came back from a long break," Zumwinkle said. "We were really able to get our feet under us, and it's great to see the chemistry starting to form between lines. As a unit, we all work together. It doesn't matter who scores at the end of the day, it's all about setting each other up and having fun together."
The Gophers outshot the Huskies, 50-23, for the game while going one-for-three on the power play. Meanwhile, the Maroon & Gold was perfect on the penalty kill at three-for-three. SCSU's Alder finished with 45 saves while Scobee picked up her fifth win of the season (5-2-1) and Minnesota extended its winning streak to 12 games.
Up next, Minnesota returns to WCHA action with a trip to Mankato, Minn., for a conference series with the Mavericks. The Gophers and Minnesota State face off at 7:07 p.m. CT Friday, Jan. 11 and 3:07 p.m. CT Saturday, Jan. 12.
Minnesota Cup All-Tournament Team
Forward: Gabbie Hughes, UMD
Forward: Taylor Williamson, Minnesota
Forward: Grace Zumwinkle, Minnesota (MVP)
Defense: Anna Wilgren, MSU
Defense: Abby Thiessen, SCSU
Goaltender: Janine Alder, SCSU