DULUTH, Minn. - They read like a who's who of University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey royalty, and the Bulldogs 2010-11 senior class made sure they closed out the regular season portion of their farewell tour with a bang Saturday night.
No. 6 UMD pummeled St. Cloud State University 9-0 in front of a fan base of 2,226 at AMSOIL Arena on Senior Night, extending its current unbeaten streak to nine games. With the win and a University of Minnesota loss, the Bulldogs also clinched second place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and pick up the program's 12th consecutive season with at least 20 wins. Overall, UMD is now 20-7-3 and 18-7-3 in the WCHA, and improves to 40-9-2 all-time against the Huskies.
"What a great group of seniors with such amazing accomplishments," said head coach Shannon Miller, reflecting on her senior class after the game. "Yes, they have won two national titles, been to three NCAA Frozen Fours and they are great players, but more importantly, they are great people and leaders, and we have been lucky to have them in the Bulldog family."
The Bulldogs got on the board first when Audrey Cournoyer snapped a wrist-shot from the left face-circle over the right shoulder of SCSU goaltender Tayler VanDenkakker 11:41 into the opening period. A mere 29 seconds later, Vanessa Thibault intercepted a St. Cloud pass on UMD's blueline and skated into the Huskies zone, hesitated, and slid the puck across to a hard crashing Kacy Ambroz, who buried her second goal in as many games to give the Bulldogs the 2-0 lead.
The star of Friday night's contest, sophomore forward Pernilla WInberg, scored her fifth game of the series at the 10:15 mark of the second period, following up the rebound of a Katie Wilson shot on the power-play to extend UMD's lead to 3-0. Cournoyer sniped her second goal of the night with 47 seconds remaining in the second stanza - also a power-play tally - to send the Bulldogs into the second intermission with a 4-0 advantage over the Huskies.
UMD exploded for a season-high five goals in the third period of play, with tallies from Elin Holmlov, Jamie Kenyon, Jessica Wong, Laura Fridfinnson, and a third goal from Cournoyer, who netted her first hat-trick as a Bulldog with 1:30 remaining in the game. Overshadowing UMD's overwhelming offense was the physical tone the contest took, however, with the Bulldogs and Huskies combining for 82 minutes worth of infractions in the final stanza. Overall, UMD set a new record for most penalty minutes in a game with 55, one more minute than the previous record of 54.
Not forgotten in the Bulldogs unabashed offense on the night was another major milestone, the kind that cements legends. Senior goaltender Kim Martin became UMD's all-time winningest goaltender with the victory, giving her an overall record over her four years of 66-22-6. Martin made 23 saves on the night to earn her 15th shutout of her career, and now ranks No. 4 in the WCHA all-time in goaltender wins.
The Bulldogs will open up the WCHA playoffs next weekend in AMSOIL Arena, hosting Minnesota State University-Mankato. Friday and Saturday's games are set for 7:07p.m., with a third game Sunday, if need, slated for 7:07 p.m.
"Of course we are going to really miss them," said Miller, who is now 310-85-34 at UMD's helm and 110-28-10 over the past four years. "They will always be remembered, but for now, they still have a lot more to accomplish. We still have a lot that we want to do this season."