DULUTH, Minn. - The No. 6 University of Minnesota may still have the slight edge on the No. 3 University of Minnesota Duluth in the all-time series count, but the Bulldogs have sure had the Gophers number lately.
In the 53rd all-time meeting between the two programs, UMD held off Minnesota 3-2 Friday night at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center to extend its current winning streak against its Western Collegiate Hockey Association rival to five games. The Bulldogs - who closed the all-time gap against the Gophers to 22-26-5 with the win - are now also 6-1-0 overall and 4-1-0 in WCHA play.
"Great game tonight, I thought we certainly dominated the first and third periods and played a complete game,' said UMD head coach Shannon Miller, who is now just three victories shy of 300 in her career. "In the second period, we over-handled the puck in the offensive zone and didn't shoot enough and that cost us, but in the first and third period we attacked how we should attack and it made the difference in the game."
UMD got on the scoreboard first, a feat that entering Friday night's game, had lent a 4-0 record so far this season to the Bulldogs. UMD also did what no other opponent had done on Minnesota goaltender Noora Raty in 245:11 minutes of action this season - the Bulldogs scored. UMD connected on its second early power-play of the game at 5:11, as sophomore forward Jessica Wong went top-net and glove-side on Raty for her sixth goal of the season. UMD's 1-0 lead was short lived, however. Minnesota's Kelly Seeler collected a power-play tally of her own, right off the face-off at 7:34 to draw the game even at 1-1 and break the Bulldogs' own scoreless streak of over 230 minutes and three and a half games, dating back to Oct. 16.
The second period featured a push of tempo for the Gophers - who outshot UMD 11-9 in the period - but it took Minnesota 19:34 before its effort would be rewarded. Sarah Davis tipped a shot from Anne Schleper from the point past Bulldog netminder Jennifer Harss to give the Gophers the lone goal of the second period and a 2-1 advantage heading into the final stanza of play.
The Bulldogs made the most of their first chance of the third period and never looked back after that. Seizing on a Gopher turnover at Minnesota's blueline, senior forward Elin Holmlov skated down the slot and deked Raty to knot the game at two goals apiece just 51 seconds into the period. UMD then took the lead for good at 13:55, and while Harss had been outstanding in the net, it was her pass up the ice to Holmlov that assisted in the Bulldogs' game-winning score. Holmlov found a slot-streaking Pernilla Winberg, and Winberg snuck the puck by Raty for her third goal - and first game-winning tally - of the young season.
"It's a little bit different because it is such a big rivalry," said Harss after the game. "Minnesota always plays at a great level and everybody has to bring their "A" game when we play against them."
Harss, who is now 5-2 against Minnesota and has backstopped UMD to five straight wins against the Gophers, made 20 saves in her third win of the season. Raty made 31 saves for Minnesota, which falls to 5-3-0 overall and 2-3-0 in WCHA play. UMD was 1-of-6 on its power-play, while Minnesot 1-of-4, and the Bulldogs outshot the Gophers 34-22 in the contest.
The two titans of women's college hockey will return to the ice to put the lid on their league series tomorrow night at the DECC. Game-time is set for 7:07 p.m.