Haley Irwin and the Bulldogs made a mess of the NCAA's stingiest defense Friday night.
The No. 8 University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team, lead by Irwin's hand in all four Bulldog goals, knocked off the No. 1 University of Minnesota 4-2 at AMSOIL Arena. The importance of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association win was obvious for UMD, which now improves to 12-8-1 overall and 9-7-1 in the all-mighty WCHA.
"Our performance tonight was more than playing a game, it was a statement of who we are as a team and as a Bulldog family tonight we played with a great deal of self respect and discipline," said head coach Shannon Miller. "We played the best hockey we've played this year, and we will continue to play well. We have our best hockey in front of us."
Minnesota, making its first ever appearance in AMSOIL Arena, struck just a minute into the contest on a breakaway goal by Kelly Terry. UMD rookie forward Jenna McParland answered almost instantly with a tally of her own, a shot from the bottom inside of the circle, to knot the game at 1-1, 33 seconds later. Then at the 10:18 mark, senior Irwin, who already owned an assist on McParland's first goal, drove to the net to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. A mere 3:06 later, Irwin grabbed her second assist of the game on junior forward Audrey Cournoyer's backhanded score to push UMD's lead to 3-1 after a 20 minutes of play.
After a quiet start to the second period, the scoring onslaught continued as the Gophers cut UMD's deficit to a single goal, the result of a breakaway from Sarah Davis at 12:54. McParland answered again, this time with a backhanded loose puck on the power-play for her second goal of the night. Irwin also dished out her third helper at 18:19 to prop up the Bulldogs advantage 4-2.
Neither team scored in the final period of play, and despite Minnesota outshooting UMD 33-25, the Bulldogs unseated the newly minted top-ranked team in the country.
Jennifer Harss turned away 31 shots for UMD, while her counterpart in the Gopher net, Noora Raty, made 21 saves. Both goaltenders made just five saves in the third period. UMD was 1-of-4 on the power-play and held Minnesota to 0-of-5 with the extra skater.
The two teams will hit the ice again tomorrow night at AMSOIL with a 7:07 p.m. start.
BULLDOG NOTES: UMD is now 14-8-2 on Duluth ice against the Gophers...Haley Irwin had one goal and three assists on the night--her first action against Minnesota since the regular season of last year...Irwin has scored three goals and six assists in her last three skates...Shannon Miller and the Bulldogs are now 24-30-6 all-time against the Gophers...Minnesota had won five of its last seven meetings with UMD heading into Friday's contest.