A shaky start set up some tense moments heading into third period, but the University of Minnesota Duluth found its offensive flare over the final 20 minutes en route to a 5-2 exhibition win over Team Japan Saturday night at Amsoil Arena. The Bulldogs trailed twice early on despite holding a significant edge in shots on goal from the opening faceoff, and pulled away down the stretch in front of 1,002 spectators.
Dictating the pace of play through first two periods did UMD no favors, as the Bulldogs found themselves headed into the final frame facing a 2-2 tie. It could have been worse for UMD, which was about to head into the third period down a goal in the waning moments of the second period. That's when junior left winger Meghan Huertas jammed a Zoe Hickel rebound into the back of the net 18 seconds ahead of intermission to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead.
UMD quickly gained the lead, again taking advantage of a situation on special teams. Senior left winger Jamie Kenyon finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play that went through freshman defender Lara Stalder and rookie center Ashleigh Brykaliuk before Kenyon whacked it home from the doorstep. Brykaliuk looked very comfortable in her first on-ice action as a Bulldog, centering UMD's top line and adding a first-period goal and another helper for a two-point night.
Katherine McGovern continued the impressive showing for the Bulldog newcomers, sniping an unassisted goal midway through the third period. The left-winger from Scottsdale, Ariz., caused a turnover at the Japan blue line then quickly rushed to the net before sneaking a between the crossbar and Azusa Nakaoku's blocker pad.
Sophomore goaltender Kayla Black, who often went minutes at a time between shots faced, made 12 saves in the winning effort. Nakaoku was busy from the get-go and came up with 37 saves in the contest.
UMD opens the regular season at home next weekend, when it plays host to the University of Connecticut of Hockey East on Friday and Saturday. Opening faceoff in both ends of the non-conference series are set for 6:07 p.m.