DULUTH, Minn. - It wasn't pretty, but it was still a win big enough to land the No. 6 University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team back into fourth place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
The Bulldogs broke a 3-3 tie early in the third period and held on to defeat Bemidji State University 4-2 in AMSOIL ARENA, Friday night. The victory is UMD's first in its new rink, and improves the Bulldogs' record to 13-7-3 and 11-7-3 in the WCHA.
"First and foremost, we won our first game in our new rink, so there is something to celebrate and be proud of," said head coach Shannon Miller, who is now 49-1-2 all-time against BSU. "But our players who were here last year are playing like they are satisfied with last year's ring and I am not. I have five and it doesn't change the fact that I am still very hungry."
The Beavers struck first, capitalizing on a Bulldog turnover on their defensive blueline. Erin Cody stripped the last UMD player of the puck to the right of Bulldog netminder Kim Martin, and walked in on Martin, beating her the left side to give BSU the 1-0 lead just 3:04 into the game. The Bulldogs would net the equalizer 3:03 later, a slap shot from the point by senior defenseman Tara Gray, her second tally in as many skates.
A resurgent Laura Fridfinnson helped ease the loss of Haley Irwin for the night early in the second stanza. Fridfinnson scored the lead off goal of the second period, following in a shot to Alana McEhinney's right shoulder, and then wrapped it around the goal on the left post to give UMD the 2-1 advantage at 1:14. Fridfinnson doubled-her goal output on the evening a mere 3:18 later on the power-play, tucking home an errant rebound in front of the crease to build the Bulldog lead to 3-1.
BSU responded with an extra skater, however, when a errant wrist-shot from Cody from just inside the blueline bounced awkwardly through Martin's five-hole, a fluke of a goal that cut the Bulldog lead to 3-2 at the 11:18 mark. Cody struck again for the hat-trick 1:16 later, skating with the puck from behind the UMD goal and beating Martin to knot the game at 3-3.
UMD's Elin Holmlov delivered the game-winner 4:03 into the final period, a backhanded touch on the puck that managed to sneak through McElhinney's pads and put the Bulldogs up for good.
Martin made 21 saves on the evening en route to her 63rd career win. McElhinney turned away 31 pucks for BSU, which falls to 12-10-3 and 10-8-3 in the conference. UMD was 1-of-7 on the power-play, while the Beavers went 1-of-5.
"That is is every goalie's nightmare, and it just bounced and jumped to the side," said Martin of BSU's jumpy second goal. "There isn't a lot you can do about it, and we all know it happens at every level of hockey."
The Bulldogs, who snapped the longest winless streak in program history (five games) with the win, will hit the ice tomorrow night with BSU to finish up the series. Game-time is set for 7:07 p.m.