MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Olivia Knowles scored the game-winner in overtime and Taylor Williamson scored twice in regulation to lead the No. 2 University of Minnesota women's hockey team to a 4-3 overtime win over Minnesota Duluth in game two of the inaugural Minnesota Cup on Saturday evening. The Golden Gophers advance to Sunday's tournament championship game against St. Cloud State after the Huskies defeated Minnesota State in a shootout in Saturday's first game.
A back-and-forth game between the Gophers and Bulldogs saw UMD tie the game twice in the third period after the Bulldogs got on the board first and forced Minnesota to come from behind just 53 seconds into the game. The Gophers led 2-1 and 3-2 before sealing off the 4-3 win with 1:55 remaining in overtime.
"It was a certainly an exciting game here tonight," head coach Brad Frost said. "Anytime you can win in overtime, it becomes pretty special. To score four goals on Duluth's goaltender is never easy to do, but our goalie tonight was the difference and I believe the reason that we won the game ultimately. Credit to Duluth, as they dominated us at times. We haven't had that many turnovers and bad changes in a long, long time. That was a little disappointing, but in the end we aren't going to apologize for winning. We have a chance tomorrow to raise a trophy and win a tournament, which we are excited about."
Minnesota (18-2-1) was led by Alex Gulstene's 33 saves in net along with Williamson's two-goal effort. The Gophers also got multiple points from Taylor Heise on a pair of assists, and Grace Zumwinkle also scored.
Minnesota Duluth (6-9-2) received goals from Anna Klein, Gabbie Hughes, and Sydney Brodt along with 17 saves from Maddie Rooney in net. The Bulldogs outshot the Gophers, 36-21 for the the game.
UMD got on the board first when Klein scored her fifth goal of the season just 53 seconds into the game, but the Gophers tied the game with Williamson's seventh goal of the season with 8:16 remaining in the opening period. Gulstene stopped a breakaway by UMD's Hughes and Amy Potomak gained possession of the puck in the Gophers' end. She moved through neutral ice with speed and broke into the UMD zone on a breakaway of her own, putting the initial shot on target where Rooney made the save. Williamson was there to bury the rebound and tie the game at 1-1, and the teams were even after one period of play.
Minnesota took the lead at the 6:15 mark of the second period when Williamson scored her second of the game, again crashing the net and banging home a rebound. Alex Woken and Heise picked up assists on the play as Rooney stopped Woken's shot, but Williamson was there for the rebound. Despite the Bulldogs having an 18-15 advantage in shots on goal after two periods, Minnesota took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.
UMD tied the game twice over the final 20 minutes, first making it 2-2 with a power-play goal from Hughes just 25 seconds into the final stanza. A blast from Zumwinkle put Minnesota back on top at the 8:50 mark of the third period, but the Bulldogs again tied it up and ultimately sent it to overtime when Brodt scored her third of the year with 5:05 remaining.
Knowles locked up Minnesota's 11th-straight victory with her third goal of the season at the 3:05 mark of overtime, sending the Gophers to the Minnesota Cup championship game where they will take on St. Cloud State.
"Overall, it was so much fun to be back out there," Williamson said. "Overtime wins are always so much fun. We know that every single game we play against Duluth is going to be a huge battle. We had to come into it ready to play, because Duluth always comes ready, but we just did what we knew we could do."
The Gophers were scoreless on one power-play opportunity against the Bulldogs while holding UMD to one-for-two with the skater advantage.
Day two of the Minnesota Cup begins with Minnesota Duluth taking on Minnesota State at 1:07 p.m. CT before the Gophers face off against St. Cloud State in the championship game at 4:07 p.m. CT.
St. Cloud State (7-15-2) and Minnesota State (8-7-4) tied 2-2 in game one on Saturday, and the Huskies advanced to the tournament championship game with a 1-0 shootout victory on a goal by Jenniina Nylund. It looked like the Mavericks were headed to the Minnesota Cup title game, holding a 2-1 lead late in the game, but Abby Thiessen tied the game for the Huskies with an extra attacker with just 1:08 remaining before Nylund sealed the shootout win.