POTSDAM, N.Y. - The toughest schedule in the NCAA didn't get any easier Friday night for the University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team.
The Bulldogs dropped game one against No. 3 -- and defending national champion -- Clarkson University 4-1 at Cheel Arena in Potsdam, NY. It was the first meeting between two storied college hockey programs, who between them own almost half of the NCAA titles won over the past two decades.
In addition to dueling with one of the best teams in the country, the Bulldogs ran into the nation's leading scorer -- Loren Gabel entered the game leading the NCAA with a 2.20 PPG average, but recorded all four of the Golden Knights goals Friday night.
Gabel netted Clarkson's first goal off a one-timer with 27 seconds remaining in the first period, but UMD found the equalizer 8:43 into the second period. Freshman Gabbie Hughes used a second effort to beat from Ohio State University goaltender Kassidy Sauve for her fifth goal of the year. Hughes, who currently leads the Bulldogs with 10 points, was assisted by Anneke Linser and Anna Klein on the tally.
Gabel and the Golden Knights regained the lead 1:35 later on a shot that found of the corner of the net, before redirecting a shot at the 17:43 mark to pick up a hat trick and the 3-1 lead for Clarkson.
UMD outshot the Golden Knights 11-9 in the third frame, but Gabel registered her fourth goal of the evening at 7:55 to round out all scorers.
Overall, Clarkson outshot the Bulldogs 37-27 in the game, but neither team was successful with an extra skater -- UMD went 0-of-2, while the Golden Knights were held scoreless in four attempts. Maddie Rooney made 33 saves for the Bulldogs, now 5-7-1, while Sauve stopped 26 shots for Clarkson, who improves to 11-3 with the win.
UMD, who has now played three-straight games against top-seven opponents and nine of 13 games against the nation's elite, will skate to split the series tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m. CDT.