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MADISON, Wisc.– It was a 2-0 win for Minnesota in the opening game against rival Wisconsin, but the cost may have been huge.
Gopher captain Dani Cameranesi left the game after a tough collision into the corner boards. She was down on the ice for several minutes, but was able to get up and be helped off the ice to the Minnesota locker room.
Minnesota coach Brad Frost categorized it as a lower-body injury.
“Any time somebody goes off the ice and misses the last period, it’s probably not real good,” he said.
Despite the possible loss of their top scorer, Frost was happy with the performance from his team on Saturday.
“If we play that effort, regardless of whether we win or lose, we’re going to be really happy with it,” he said.
The Gophers won the game on the back of two goals from sophomore Kate Schipper.
Minnesota scored on the power play with just more than two minutes to go in the second period. The Gophers have the second-ranked power play unit in the country.
Schipper tallied her 100th point as a Gopher on a one-timer off a pass from Cameranesi. Schipper was alone in the slot and had an open look at the net after Badger defenseman Mackenzie Steffen broke her stick and was unable to poke the puck away.
The assist was also Cameranesi’s 200th career point.
Minnesota controlled much of the first two periods, out-shooting Wisconsin 28-21. Neither team was able to hold possession for long. When Wisconsin was able to hold the puck in the offensive zone, Minnesota’s defense was disruptive. The Gophers had 13 blocks through the first two periods.
“Minnesota came out to start the game and they had a good jump and good puck possession. They put us on our heels for most of the first period. I thought parts of the second period we played better and finally got our legs in the early part of the third period, started to create the opportunities and got some good offensive zone time,” said Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson.
Sidney Peters was solid in net for the Gophers, notching her first shut-out against rival Wisconsin and just her fifth of the year. Frost felt his whole team stepped up their game on Saturday.
“We just showed incredible guts out there. It was fun to see them rise to the occasion. It felt like our team was playing well, but to see them take it up another notch here tonight was just great,” he said.
Badger captain Sydney McKibbon said the game was something Wisconsin could build on.
“We learn from it. We’ve got to put pucks in the net. You can’t win a game 0-0. I think we learn from that and I think we’ve got to come out flying tomorrow in the first 8 or 10 minutes. That’s going to be huge for us. Try and get a couple of goals in the first period,” she said.
Both squads saw plenty of scrums in front of the net for loose pucks, though none of those turned into goals. McKibbon said the Badgers will work on crashing the net and getting Peters to move side to side tomorrow to try and find scoring lanes.
Should Cameranesi be unavailable on Sunday, Frost said he thought Schipper would be moved to the top line, citing her similarities to Cameranesi as the reason he thought she could slot in.
The two teams return to the ice Sunday at 2:00 pm CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Wisconsin/Fox Sports North.