With three power play goals, including two just 41 seconds apart in the second period, the No. 10 University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team powered right past Bemidji State University with a 4-2 win at AMSOIL Arena Saturday afternoon. The Western Collegiate Hockey Association series sweep sends the Bulldogs into a conference tie with the Beavers with two games in hand, and keeps UMD unbeaten in 2020 through its first four games.
"What a great weekend for us," said UMD head coach Maura Crowell. "Our players knew how important this one was for us in the standings and gaining some traction on Bemidji, so to come away with a sweep against a really good Bemidji team is huge for us. I am really happy with the way we played all weekend, especially today with the strength of our power play and overcoming some early game adversity."
For the first time in 121:41 minutes, BSU finally found the back of the net on Bulldog netminder Maddie Rooney, a power play goal from Paige Beebe 1:27 into the first period. But UMD responded in the closing minutes of the stanza when Kylie Hanley put back a long rebound off a Jalyn Elmes shot to knot the game at 1-1 at 18:58.
UMD took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play at 6:57 of the second period to go ahead 2-1 on Ryleigh Houston's second goal of the year. Houston tucked in a rebound on the doorstep from an Anneke Linser shot in the slot for the 2-1 lead. Just 41 seconds later, Ashton Bell did exactly what the junior defenseman has become an expert at -- she followed in a shot from Gabbie Hughes on the far post and lifted the puck past Lauren Bench for her second goal of the series and fifth power goal of the year. Bell's goal extended UMD's scoreboard advantage to 3-1, as well as cemented her as the program's highest scoring blueliner in the past eight seasons.
BSU cut the Bulldog lead to 3-2 with 1:10 remaining in the second period on a blistering shot from Jacqueline Kaasa, but UMD added another goal in the third period to put any chance of a Beaver comeback to rest. Bell skated into the zone and through the circle to find Sydney Brodt waiting in the slot, a perfect pass complimented by Brodt's tenth goal of the season at 8:51.
Rooney had 29 saves for a grand total of 59 on the weekend, while Bench had 27 in the loss, which drops BSU to 13-12-1 and 7-9-0. After not getting a power play opportunity the night before, UMD went an impressive 3-of-4 with an extra skater. Both teams put 31 shots on goal in the skate.
UMD (11-8-3, 6-6-2) travels to St. Cloud, Minn. next weekend in another WCHA series against St. Cloud State University. Friday's game will get underway at 6:07 p.m., while Saturday's puck will drop at 2:07 p.m.
BULLDOG NOTES: Ashton Bell has now scored a goal in her last three games (all three against BSU)...Bell now sits sixth in points (22) among all defenseman in the NCAA, and is tied for most point production in the WCHA with a 1.00 points per game average...Bell has also already scored the most goals from a UMD blueliner with nine since Jessica Wong netted 11 over the course of the 2011-12 season.