After playing just over 259 minutes of hockey in less than 48 hours, the No. 9 University of Minnesota Duluth is moving on in the postseason after a decisive 4-1 win over Bemidji State University at AMSOIL Arena in game three of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff quarterfinal. The Bulldogs scored three unanswered goals in the second period to break the game open en route to their 18th win of the year and fourth WCHA Final Face-Off berth in the past five seasons.
"I think that was an epic game last night, and we know we will be talking about that for years," said UMD head coach Maura Crowell. "On to the next day, it's just paying attention to what's right in front of us, not looking ahead to the Final Face-Off, not thinking about last night, just getting the job done. I think we did that methodically, and it took everybody. It was awesome, a real quality team win."
For a third-straight game, the Bulldogs got on the board first. Defenseman Taylor Stewart pushed the puck up to Anna Klein along the left boards and Klein skated across the blueline to the bottom of the circle before sniping a shot past BSU goaltender Lauren Bench just under the crossbar and post for the 1-0 lead at 16:00 of the first period.
The Bulldogs erupted offensively in the second period, netting three-unanswered goals in the first 6:09 of play. Senior winger Sydney Brodt chased down the opening period face-off, and from behind the BSU net, flipped it off of the back of Bench's stick and in for her 18th goal of the season just 14 seconds in. Freshman forward Mannon McMahon then tacked on another Bulldog goal, sliding the puck past Bench's right skate with the help of a stick deflection to extend UMD's lead to 3-0. McMahon's play sparked UMD's fourth goal less than four minutes later-- and third of the period -- when she found Kylie Hanley backdoor on the far post to put the Bulldogs up 4-0 at the 6:09 mark.
"You're not going to skate end to end every time, you just gotta win your battles every time and legs were gone for both teams, so it was just about the little things today," said McMahon, who had a career-high two points in the contest. "We focused on the next game and didn't dwell on the past."
The three-goal Bulldog outburst forced the Beavers to make a goaltender change after Hanley's goal, and BSU's Reece Hunt managed to net a power play goal at 15:57 to halt UMD's unanswered goal tally at four goals. The Beavers could get no closer -- the three goals, and play of Maddie Rooney in net, proved to be too much for BSU in the end.
Rooney had 17 saves in the game and a whopping grand total of 95 on the weekend. BSU's Bench left the game with six stops, and Kerigan Dowhy made 13 in 30:44 of action. The Beavers end their season with a record of 16-18-3 overall.
The Bulldogs (18-11-6), who will make their second-consecutive appearance in the WCHA Final Face-Off and fourth in the last five seasons, will rematch against the No. 2 University of Wisconsin next Saturday at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. The first semifinal game of the Final Face-Off is scheduled to get underway at 2:07 p.m.
BULLDOG NOTES: Four players posted two point games for the Bulldogs -- Sydney Brodt, Kylie Hanley, Anna Klein and Mannon McMahon all recorded a goal and an assist in the skate...With two points Sunday, Brodt inched closer to the 100 point-mark...the senior forward now has 97 points on 39 goals and 58 career assists...UMD improves to 12-5 against BSU in WCHA quarterfinal games and 30-9 in all WCHA quarterfinal games...The Bulldogs finish the season 5-3 against the Beavers and now own an all-time record of 79-21-7 against BSU.