DULUTH, Minn. - The Bulldogs clearly made power-play goals part of their New Year's resolutions.
Hitting the ice for the first time in 2014, the University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team pounced on its extra-skater opportunities to beat Minnesota State University, Mankato 3-1 at AMSOIL Arena in front of 1,473 fans. With the win, UMD improves to 10-8-3 on the season and 8-6-3 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
"Pretty good game considering we haven't played in three weeks," said head coach Shannon Miller, whose squad has now won four-straight against MSU. "It was a good team effort, a good team win for the first game of 2014."
The Mavericks stunned UMD early with a shot on goal through line change traffic, a mid-ice blast that took an inadvertent bounce. The puck appeared to be heading for Kayla Black's glove side but ended up skipping up over the Bulldog goaltender's blocker 10 minutes into the first period.
Junior forward Zoe Hickel knotted the game at 1-1 just 2:33 into the second period for UMD, shoveling a rebound through traffic for her sixth tally of the year. Hickel's power play goal - her third - ignited the Bulldogs to an early 11-4 shot advantage in the stanza.
UMD struck again with an extra skater at the 11:39 mark when Hickel redirected a cross-ice pass from the right circle towards the slot to a waiting Tea Villila. Villila tipped the puck past MSU's Erin Krichiver for her second score of the season.
The Bulldogs grabbed a 3-1 lead off a Meghan Huertas redirect from the doorstep, UMD's third power-play goal of the night at 16:03 of the second period. Huertas's sixth tally on the year rewarded both rookie defenseman Sidney Morin and brand new, three-day old UMD forward Katerina Mrázová with assists.
The third period was relatively quiet for the Bulldogs, who outshot MSU 43-31 in the contest and went 3-of-5 on the power-play while holding the Mavericks scoreless in five attempts. Black finished the skate with 30 saves, while Krichiver made 40 for MSU.
Both teams will hit the ice to wrap up their regular season meetings tomorrow night in the annual "Pink the Rink" game at 6:07 p.m.