DULUTH, Minn. - Just as the snow started to come down in full force outside AMSOIL Arena, the tenth-ranked University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team found its own perfect storm.
The Bulldogs netted two goals in the second period to open up the contest and plow through Minnesota State University, Mankato 4-2. With the Western Collegiate Hockey association win, UMD improves to 14-11-3 and 13-10-1 in the WCHA, and retains sole possession of fourth place and three points behind the University of Wisconsin in third.
"We were just dialed in today and we played much better," said head coach Shannon Miller after the game. "Today was a better game because I thought Mankato played better today and we played better. I'm glad Mankato gave us a good game."
The Bulldogs took the first lead of the game 11:06 into the first period on a shorthanded goal by senior forward Pernilla Winberg. Sophomore winger Jenna McParland picked up a turnover behind the Mavericks net and got an initial shot off before Winberg, on the doorstep, banged the rebound past MSU goaltender Erin Krichiver
Just eight seconds after UMD grabbed the 1-0 advantage, the Bulldogs put the Mavericks on a 5-on-3 power play. 1:24 later, MSU cashed in as Kathleen Rogan snuck the puck by an outstretched Kayla Black to knot the game at 1-1 at the 12:37 mark.
UMD flexed its offensive muscle in the second period to break open the game, beginning with junior center Brienna Gillanders seventh goal of the season at 7:08. Aleksandra Vafina centered the puck just in front of the crease to a hard skating Gillanders on the backpost, and Gillanders one-timed the puck for the 2-1 lead. Then at the 16:35 mark, senior forward Jessica Wong, off a McParland face-off win, skated the puck between the circles and wristed the puck high and stick-side of Krichiver to put UMD ahead 3-1 heading into the second intermission.
Gillanders gave the Bulldogs a 4-1 edge 10:37 into the third period despite falling forward as she slid the puck backwards into MSU's goal. Gillanders' second tally of the game was quickly followed by Maverick Lauren Smith, who netted a goal just nine seconds later but UMD kept MSU off the board for the remaining 9:14 and earned the win for the series split.
Black had 22 saves in net for the Bulldogs, while her counterpart Krichiver had 23 stops for MSU. UMD finishes up the regular season against the Mavericks 1-2-1.
"It was tough to come off that game yesterday but were all positive about it and knew that today was a different day," said Wong. "We went out there and stuck to the game plan."
The Bulldogs hit the road for Madison, Wisc. next weekend to play the No. 8 Badgers. Game time Friday is set for 4:00pm and Saturday's contest is slated for 7:00pm.