It's probably safe to say that Jessica Wong is enjoying the Bulldogs new offensive system.
The No. 4 University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team, led by the sophomore forward's first career collegiate hat-trick, buried the University of Connecticut at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Saturday 8-0, in the first ever meeting between the two schools. With the win, the Bulldogs move to 4-1-1 overall, and extend their dominance over Hockey East members with a 14-2 all-time record against the WHEA. The decisive victory also set a new UMD record for fewest shots allowed in one game by dismantling the previous record of 13 shots. The Bulldogs, who ran up 63 shots of their own, held UConn to just nine shots on goal in 60 minutes, a new UMD program low.
"To become great, you have to be consistently good, and we talked about two games for this weekend, not two periods, not one game, if we want to become great," said head coach Shannon Miller, who is now just five wins away from 300. "You have the whole season to become great, but today we were pretty darn good."
Wong jump-started the scoring just 4:05 into the contest, finishing a pass from junior forward Haley Irwin over the glove of UConn goaltender Alexandra Garcia. 10:50 later, Pernilla Winberg found a wide-open Wong on the door-step, and Wong connected for her second tally of the game at 14:55 to give UMD a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of action.
Even more daunting for the Huskies than the scoreboard, however, was the fact that UConn didn't manage a shot on goal for all but 12 seconds of the first period. The Huskies would only find Bulldog netminder Jennifer Harss three more times in the second period, and UMD would take a 3-0 lead at 1:56 on a Audrey Cournoyer goal, assisted by senior forward Laura Fridfinnson. Wong would strike again exactly one minute later for her third goal of the game and first Bulldog hat-trick, netting UMD's first trio of goals since Emmanuelle Blais picked-up the triple feat against North Dakota last season on Feb. 26 at the DECC.
The Bulldogs - who after two periods of play had already reached their 2010-11 average of shots a game with a 40-4 advantage on the shot clock - carried a 4-0 lead into the final stanza of play. Irwin pushed the lead to 5-0 at 4:40, and rewarded linemate Elin Holmlov with her second assist of the afternoon. Sophomore forward Katie Wilson tacked on a goal of her own at 6:28, and the rout was long on with 13 minutes remaining in the final period of play. Perhaps most telling of the Bulldogs Saturday accomplishment was the fact that when Fridfinnson netted a short-handed goal at 8:46 to give UMD the 7-0 lead, the Bulldogs had more goals than the Huskies had taken shots (six). Jamie Kenyon's first goal in the Maroon and Gold of UMD at 12:31 gave the Bulldogs an 8-0 lead - two goals more than the Huskies had shots.
Harss made eight saves in the contest, earning the seventh shutout of her career. Two UConn goaltenders were between the pipes for the now 1-5-0 Huskies, with Garcia making 41 stops, and her third period replacement Claire Francis making 14.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow afternoon at the DECC to finish out UMD's lone WHEA series of the season. Game-time is set for 3:07 p.m.