|2nd||12:15||MND||1-0||PP||Kateřina Mrázová (9)||Ashleigh Brykaliuk/28, Lara Stalder/32|
|2nd||13:22||MIN||1-1||EV||Sarah Potomak (19)||-|
|OT2||11:29||MND||2-1||EV GW||Lara Stalder (23)||Kateřina Mrázová/11|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|Minnesota Duluth (25-5-5)||1/2||3/6||0|
|Minnesota Duluth Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||O1||O2||Saves|
|Maddie Rooney (W, 25-5-5)||91:29||1||17||8||12||20||5||62|
|Sidney Peters (L, 24-7-4)||91:06||2||6||9||11||8||5||39|
With one whack of the puck, Lara Stalder cemented the University of Minnesota Duluth's future postseason landscape in more ways than one.
The most immediate effect of Stalder's game-winning goal and the No. 2 Bulldogs 2-1 double-overtime win against the No. 4/5 University of Minnesota, is that UMD will play the No. 1 University of Wisconsin Sunday in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's Final Face-Off final. That game assures the winner of what both teams also already own - bids to the NCAA Regional next weekend.
The triumph also unshackled the Bulldogs from any remaining unnecessary burdens - the win was the first by a UMD squad over the Gophers at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. since the 2009-10 season, snapping a 0-15-1 winless streak. It also sends the Bulldogs back to the WCHA Final Face-Off finals for the first time since the 2011-12 season - the last time UMD had won a game at Ridder until Saturday night.
"The game was fast, with dynamic players going for both teams," said UMD head coach Maura Crowell, who now owns a 5-1 record in the WCHA postseason. "I thought the Gophers played fantastic. I thought we weathered a lot of pressure at times, 63 shots against, but we figured it out and put the puck in the net when we needed to. Can't say enough about the way the team persevered and got it done in the end."
Minnesota put the heat on UMD early, outshooting the Bulldogs 17-6 in the opening period. But it was UMD that struck first, using a power play goal to take a 1-0 lead on the Gophers at the 12:15 mark of the second period. Senior forward Ashleigh Brykaliuk put the puck on the Minnesota net, and the rebound ended up on the backhand of junior forward Katerina Mrázová for the game's first goal.
Minnesota responded 1:07 later on an unassisted score by Sarah Potomak, and after two periods of play, the Bulldogs and Gophers were knotted up at 1-1.
That tie withstood late regulation breakaways by the Gophers that UMD sophomore goaltender Maddie Rooney appeared to have no problem dismantling. It also survived a 20-8 Gopher shot advantage in the first overtime that again Rooney neutralized. In fact, it was Rooney's antics in the first 110 minutes that allowed UMD the breathing room that would help set up the second overtime.
Midway through the second overtime, Patty Kazmaier top-3 finalist Stalder was taking yet another shift back on defense for the Bulldogs when she chased down Mrázová skate into the Gopher zone. Mrázová threw the puck in front of the net, and Stalder batted it down and off the back of Gopher goaltender Sidney Peters. With that, the Kazmaier candidate's celebration -- as well as UMD's -- was on.
The play withstood a thorough official review, which Stalder herself never doubted.
"It came high and I whacked at it and it goes in," said Stalder. "I knew it wasn't higher than the crossbar right away. I was 150% sure it was below the crossbar."
While both Stalder and Mrázová each had a goal and an assist in the contest, it was Rooney's 62 saves that arguably stole the show. Rooney broke a program record - her own record, at that - in the contest. While the Gophers outshot the Bulldogs 63-41 in the game, UMD held Minnesota scoreless in three power play attempts.
The Bulldogs will have a little less than 19 hours to get ready for the top-ranked Badgers, who UMD has gone 1-2-1 against so far this season. While the game is set to get underway at Ridder at 2:07 p.m., UMD didn't seem worried after the game.
""It was a great game and could have gone either way," said Crowell. "You can talk about fatigue and all those things, but I think the momentum and the confidence from winning such a tight game will carry us into tomorrow."