The University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team's place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association future standings is going to depend on how quickly the Bulldogs can forget their past.
UMD had moments in its 6-1 loss to the No. 2 University of Wisconsin Friday afternoon at AMSOIL Arena, but the Badgers never really shared their momentum, rattling off four goals by the end of the second period that Bulldogs simply had no answer for. UMD is in a close race in the league standings, just five points behind third place Ohio State University with a game in hand, and now just two points ahead of Bemidji State University in fourth place.
"We talked about in the locker room that we need to be great as a group to play a team like this and compete and win," said UMD head coach Maura Crowell. "I think we can all look at ourselves and ask if we were great today, and I'm pretty sure I know the answer. The good thing about all of this is that we have an opportunity tomorrow to start fresh."
UMD weathered two UW power plays in the first period, but the lone goal came early. It belonged to Emily Clark of the Badgers, who took a 1-0 lead at 3:44 of the first period on Clark's tenth goal of the year.
The second period was a different story entirely, with Wisconsin adding a second goal from Presley Norby at the 6:01 mark that set in motion two other tallies. Clark struck again at 14:02 and Annie Pankowski pushed the Badger lead to 4-0 with just 15 seconds left in the second frame.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board when freshman Gabbie Hughes -- who was back in the line-up after missing last weekend's series -- connected with freshman Kailee Skinner in the slot. Skinner's shot somehow found a way through Kristen Campbell's five-hole, and momentarily helped UMD cut the UW deficit to 4-1.
The Badgers tacked on two more goals in the period, and out-shot the Bulldogs 44-20 in the contest. The six goals UMD gave up Friday was a game-high by an opponent for the season.
Bulldog netminder Maddie Rooney made 27 saves in 40 minutes of action, while Emma Soderberg stopped 11 in 20 minutes. Campbell had 19 saves for the Badgers, who improve to 27-4-0 overall and 17-4-0 in WCHA play.
UMD (13-14-2, 9-10-2) will face UW tomorrow at 3:07 p.m. in its last regular season game at AMSOIL Arena. The game, UMD's annual 'Cram the AM, will also double as senior day, with a special ceremony to honor UMD's seniors following the game. Tickets for the game will be just $1.00, or free with a food donation.
BULLDOG NOTES: With an assist Friday, Gabbie Hughes has now scored six points in her last four games (2g, 4) ... the assist also puts Hughes at 30 points (15g, 15a) in her first 27 games as a Bulldog.