Catie Skaja scored the game's first two goals and linemate Taylor Heise had a goal and assists on both of Skaja's goals to lead the No. 1-ranked Gophers women's hockey team to 5-1 victory over St. Thomas on Saturday at Ridder Arena.
Minnesota swept the best-of-three first round WCHA playoff series, winning 4-0 on Friday, to advance to the WCHA Final Faceoff. The Gophers (28-7-1), who have won nine straight games, will play either Minnesota Duluth or Minnesota State Mankato — they play a deciding Game 3 on Sunday in Duluth — in the first semifinal game on Saturday at Ridder.
Skaja, a senior forward on the Gophers' top line from New Prague, opened the scoring at 3 minutes, 51 seconds. She put in a rebound off the end wall on the Gophers' ninth shot on net. A shot by Heise, who took 19, 11 on nett, sailed wide, but the carom came right to Skaja. Then, 2½ minutes later, Skaja made it 2-0 from out front again with her 17th goal of the season.
Heise's shorthanded goal, with only a few seconds left in a penalty kill, put Minnesota ahead at 13:55. It was her 28th goal of the season, and fifth shorthanded.
Emily Oden redirected a shot by Crystalyn Hengler for her ninth goal 4½ minutes into the second period.
The Tommies (5-27-1), a first-year Division I program, got their only goal of the series next. Jenna Hartung scored at 7:01.
The Gophers' Audrey Wethington completed the scoring on a bad-angle shot with 2½ minutes left in the second.
Lauren Bench made 18 saves for the win. Saskia Maurer had 52 saves and Eryn Cooley three.