With eight goals in less than 24 hours, it's probably safe to say the University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team has found its offensive stride.
The Bulldogs blew off their scoring lid in the third period Sunday afternoon, and the result was a four-goal stanza that propelled UMD over Minnesota State University, Mankato 5-3 in the third place game of the Minnesota Cup. In all, four different players lit the lamp for the Bulldogs, who were led by freshman Gabbie Hughes' two goals.
"That was as gutsy of a win as you can ask for," said UMD assistant coach Laura Bellamy, who picked up her second win in two seasons as the acting bench boss for U-18 USA head coach Maura Crowell. "Minnesota State put the heat on us from the drop of the puck and we certainly didn't make things easy for ourselves for the first two periods. To come out and have a four-goal third, that showed tremendous amount resilience. We have a special group and couldn't be more proud of them."
The Bulldogs fell behind for the first time midway through the first period, and a power play odd-man rush finished by Anna Wilgren handed the Mavericks a surprise 2-0 advantage at 5:55 of the second period. Hughes countered less than two minutes later for UMD, and after a faked slap shot, the rookie forward regained the puck in traffic to beat Maverick goaltender Abigail Levy to draw the Bulldogs within a single goal.
MSU retook its two-goal lead at 14:38 of the second period, and after the first 40 minutes of play, the Mavericks not only led 3-1 on the scoreboard, but 23-18 in shots on goal.
Hughes and Co. changed that narrative almost immediately at the start of the third period. Anna Klein threw the puck on net from the slot, and Hughes buried it for her second goal of the game just 50 seconds into the final stanza. Then freshman McKenzie Hewett found the 3-3 equalizer for UMD midway through the period, sweeping the puck into the net after Levy had jumped out into the crease in an attempt to corral it, the first collegiate goal for Hewett.
UMD finally went ahead for the first time in the game at the 17:01 mark. Sophomore Naomi Rogge caused a MSU turnover against the boards, and Hewett fired the puck across the crease to find Kailee Skinner for the game-winning goal. Like Hewett seven minutes prior, the score was the first for Skinner as a Bulldog.
With MSU up a skater late in the game, Klein found the empty net with two seconds left from around mid-ice to secure the Bulldog win and third place in the first-ever Minnesota Cup.
Along with four third period goals, UMD outshot MSU 17-8 in the final 20 minutes and 35-31 in the outing. Maddie Rooney made 28 saves for the Bulldogs, while Levy turned away 30 for the Mavericks, who fall to 8-7-4 overall.
Despite playing two Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams over the weekend, UMD (7-9-2 overall) gets back into actual conference action next weekend at Bemidji State University. Friday's game gets underway at 4:07 p.m.
BULLDOG NOTES: With three points (2g, 1a) Sunday and two points (1g, 1a), Gabbie Hughes posted a five point weekend, the second highest-rookie output in the nation and highest of all WCHA freshmen ... UMD had two players hit three points Sunday -- in addition to Hughes, sophomore Anna Klein recorded one goal and two assists ... Klein had a four point weekend (2g, 2a) in her own right ... in all, four players turned in multiple point performances against the Mavericks.