Sometimes what the scoreboard reads at the end of a game is deceiving.
That was certainly the case Friday night at AMSOIL Arena for the University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team, who didn't have much to show on paper for a brilliant effort in a 4-1 loss to defending NCAA champion and current No. 1 University of Minnesota.
Despite some pregame line changes for UMD, the Bulldogs withstood some early charges from the Gophers and then created plenty of scoring chances of their own in the first period. Both sides went scoreless after 20 minutes, with UMD owning 10 shots to Minnesota's nine.
"The first period was the best we've played this year," said head coach Shannon Miller after the game. "It was the best we've played offensively anyway, and that's with three of our top six forwards out of the line-up, so I was impressed with our first period."
The second period was a different story on the scoreboard, however, even as each squad had 18 shots on goal. Minnesota capitalized against the grain at 9:29 on a goal by Bethany Brausen and then just 30 seconds later, doubled its lead on Maryanne Menefee's first score of the game. UMD fell behind 3-0 on a power play goal at the 13:23 mark, again netted by Menefee, and just like that, a game that had been even on the ice was lopsided on the scoreboard.
The Bulldogs refused to go away and clawed their way back into the game, finally beating Gopher netminder Nora Raty 6:05 into the third period. Junior forward Jamie Kenyon buried the loose puck, with assists credited to Vanessa Thibault and Zoe Hickel, to cut into the Minnesota advantage 3-1. But the Gophers responded at 12:33, netting a power play tally from Megan Bozek from the point to pull ahead 4-1, which would be all the offense Minnesota would need.
The key difference of the game may just have been Minnesota's ability to solve UMD's stingy power play, cashing in on two of its four extra player opportunities. The Bulldogs went 0-of-3 on their own power play and each team received 23 saves from their goaltenders, as Kayla Black and Raty made 23 saves apiece.
UMD will have another shot at the Gophers and their 17-game winning streak tomorrow night at AMSOIL, with the rematch again set to start at 7:07 p.m.
BULLDOG NOTES: UMD was without both senior winger Pernilla Winberg and freshman winger Aleksandra Vafina...Senior winger Audrey Cournoyer dressed for her first game in four outings, but saw limited ice time and is not expected to dress tomorrow night...Winberg is listed as day-to-day...The Bulldogs have not been swept at home by Minnesota since Oct. 26-27, 2007...UMD is now 24-33-6 all-time against the Gophers and 15-12-2 all-time in Duluth.