The University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team delivered holiday cheer in more than one way Saturday night.
The Bulldogs beat Minnesota State University, Mankato 2-1 at AMSOIL Arena, pocketing five of a possible six Western Collegiate Hockey Association points in the process. UMD also did something even more important when it scored its first goal of the game -- it helped assure hundreds of teddy bears and stuffed animals will make their way into local children's arms in the upcoming days.
UMD flipped the shot chart on its head Saturday, outshooting the Mavericks 34-20 in game. After a scoreless first period, the Bulldogs shelled MSU with 19 shots, and the result was a two-goal UMD lead after the second stanza.
Gabbie Hughes increased her team-leading goal tally midway through the second period after the rookie kicked the puck to her stick and then just shoveled a backhand through the slimmest of spaces inside the post. The goal at 12:43, assisted by both Anna Klein and Anneke Linser, was the green light Bulldog fans needed to toss to the ice teddy bears and stuffed animals, and toss the AMSOIL crowd did. Hundreds of stuffed animals littered the ice to compliment the Bulldogs goal celebration -- stuffed animals that will be donated to Duluth's local Toys for Tots toy donation drive.
Linser kept the holiday spirit flowing later at the 18:13 mark, converting a blocked shot rebound into the net for her fourth goal of the season and third point on the weekend. With a goal and assist Saturday, Linser stretched her current scoring streak to a collegiate-best four games, in which the freshman forward has tallied two goals and three assists for five points over that span.
MSU finally snuck on board with just 38 seconds left in regulation on a goal by Corbin Boyd, but UMD held on for the 2-1 win.
Freshman goaltender Emma Soderberg -- who is now 2-0 in the two games she's started in so far this season -- had 19 saves for the Bulldogs in her first AMSOIL start. Maverick goaltender Abigail Levy had 32 saves for MSU, who falls to 8-7-3 overall and 3-7-2 in league play.
"Really complete game from start to finish," said UMD head coach Maura Crowell after the triumph. "I thought we played much better defensively, up ice our decision making with the puck was better. We were hungrier in front of the net and in the corners, just really good overall."
The Bulldogs (6-8-2, 4-6-2-2), who are unbeaten in their last six skates against the Mavericks, will take some time off for the holiday break before gearing up for the Minnesota Cup on Jan. 5-6 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.