On a historic opening night in AMSOIL Arena Friday in Duluth Minn., the No. 6 University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team simply couldn't overcome the high-scoring offense of the No. 1 University of Wisconsin.
The top-ranked Badgers spoiled the brand new aura of AMSOIL in front of 1,639 fans by defeating the Bulldogs 4-1, extending their 11 game-winning streak - the NCAA's best - in the process. The setback drops UMD to 12-6-2 overall and 10-7-2 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The Bulldogs still lead the all-time series 26-21-9.
The first period was a high-paced, full ice affair. The Badgers found a way to put the puck past Bulldog netminder Jennifer Harss at 15:56, but replay instantly showed that the puck was kicked in. Wisconsin would not be denied just minutes later at the 17:09 mark. Meghan Duggan reaped the benefits of a UMD turnover on its defensive-blueline and flipped the puck over a sprawling Harss to give the Badgers the first goal of the game on the evening, and the first goal ever by women's college hockey player in AMSOIL Arena.
Wisconsin flexed its potent scoring muscle (the second-best in the NCAA) in the second period, with a goal on the doorstep from Brianna Decker at 11:20. The Badgers extended that lead to 3-0 at 18:45 on the power-play, thanks to a blistering shot from the by Hilary Knight, and Wisconsin held a 3-0 lead into the second intermission.
UMD finally responded to score its first goal in AMSOIL Arena 8:15 into the final period of play. Laura Fridfinnson slid the puck across her left in the crease to Pernilla Winberg, who's shot was rebounded to senior forward Elin Holmlov on the right side of the goal. Holmlov took two stabs at it and knocked it home for her eighth tally of the season, and the first Bulldog score netted in their new digs closed the gap on the scoreboard to 3-1.
With a timeout called by the Bulldogs with just under two minutes to play, UMD pulled Harss for the extra skater in an attempt to build on some late momentum. Wisconsin's Duggan iced the game with 1:21 remaining, however, when she wristed a shot from just outside the Bulldogs blueline - despite a Badger player ahead of her and already into the zone by three strides. Scoreboard video confirmed the offsides, but couldn't be used to overrule the no call, and Wisconsin closed out the night 4-1.
Harss made 21 saves on the night, while Alex Rigsby turned away 20 Bulldog pucks. Wisconsin outshot UMD 26-21 - the third straight game the Maroon and Gold has been outshot after outshooting every opponent in its first 18 games. The Bulldogs also were held scoreless in two power-play attempts, while the Badgers, who improve to 23-2-0 overall and 17-2-0 on the season, were 1-of-4.
Both teams will again hit the ice of AMSOIL Arena tomorrow night at 7:07 p.m.
BULLDOG NOTES: Junior forward Haley Irwin, UMD's leading scorer, did not dress Friday night...The Bulldogs two consecutive losses are their first back-to-back loses since UMD was swept by Minnesota back on Oct. 16-17, 2009 last season...The Bulldogs are just 2-of-31 on their power-play in the last five games, and 0-of-10 in their past two skates...Against teams ranked in the Top-10, UMD is now 6-6-1 this season.