The No. 1 University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team had 60 minutes Saturday afternoon to work out any remaining preseason jitters, and the Bulldogs certainly didn't waste their opportunity.
UMD defeated the Minnesota Whitecaps 6-4 in an exhibition skate at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, earning the collective sweep over the club team and staying undefeated all-time (4-0) against the squad of former Division I players and Olympians. The Whitecaps featured three former Bulldogs - all-time scoring leader Jenny Potter, last season's captain Saara Tuominen, and Iya Gavrilova - all three of which have been Olympians twice in the past five years.
The first period featured multiple scoring opportunities for both sides, and like Friday night, both teams took advantage of their chances. UMD got on the scoring sheet first when the puck ended up on the stick of Katie Wilson alone on the doorstep. Wilson's tally came 4:15 into the opening stanza, but was followed just 2:15 later by former Bulldog Gavrilova's push of the puck past UMD netminder Lana Steck to equalize. The Whitecaps took a 2-1 lead at 12:46 on a Meghan Pezon goal, but UMD's Haley Irwin beat the clock and a shorthanded situation with a deke that knotted the game up at 2-2 with just one second remaining in the first period.
Senior forward Laura Fridfinnson got past Whitecap goaltender Megan Van Beusekom with a shot above her left shoulder at 2:28 of the second period to give UMD the 3-2 lead. That lead would stand until Gavrilova - streaking out of the penalty box - was located by former Bulldog Potter for a second time at 19:06 to again bring the game to a 3-3 tie into the second intermission.
Irwin scored a bouncing goal at 3:50 to push UMD's advantage back to one, but Potter found Steck's five-hole at 9:45 to tie the game at four goals apiece. The Bulldogs took the lead for good on a tally by Pernilla Winberg with 3:32 remaining in regulation, and Fridfinnson scored her second goal of the day with 21 seconds remaining on an empty net to ice the game at 6-4.
While neither squad scored on the power-play (UMD was 0-of-7, the Whitecaps 0-of-4), both goaltenders faced a lot of shots. The junior Steck -- who landed big minutes in the wake of Jennifer Harss' recovery -- turned away 32 shots from the Whitecaps, while Van Beusekom made 41 saves in the contest.
The defending NCAA champion Bulldogs will kick-off the 2010-2011 season next Friday in Grand Forks, ND, where they will travel to play the University of North Dakota in WCHA action. Game-time Friday is set for 7:07 p.m., and Saturday's contest is slated for 2:07 p.m.