DULUTH, Minn. - If this weekend was a litmus test for the No. 10 University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team against the nation's best team, then the Bulldogs more than passed the test.
The No. 1 University of Minnesota managed to escape AMSOIL Arena Saturday night with a 4-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association win, but it was UMD that showed the Bulldogs than belonged. The Gophers took four points on the weekend to the Bulldogs two, but UMD outshot Minnesota 71-59 in the series for the first time since Oct. 20-21 of 2017.
"There were certainly stretches tonight where we had them and had their number, and it was great," said head coach Maura Crowell. "I think we just need to convert a little more, and I think everyone would agree on that. It's nice to get chances and looks but it's still November, and we have a lot of developing still to do. "
The Gophers found a footing Saturday early that evaded them Friday, and the result was the first lead of the game. Sarah Potomak got her shot to trickle past UMD goaltender Maddie Rooney at 9:02 of the first period, giving Minnesota its first lead of the series.
The first period would eventually appear boring after an absolutely wildly offensive second period between the two sides that saw five goals in all. Minnesota started the scoring avalanche 2:20 into the stanza when Catie Skaja backhanded her own rebound into the twine. UMD got on the board at the 8:15 mark when Anneke Linser stretched out for a backhand of her own past Sydney Scobee to draw the Bulldogs within one goal.
Similar to Friday afternoon, senior captain Sydney Brodt delivered another momentum-building goal, this time redirecting a shot by Gabbie Hughes on the doorstep at 11:03 on the power play to pull the Bulldogs right back into the game. Unlike Friday, however, Minnesota responded, and Skaja tapped away a rebound that had managed to escape detection 2:24 later to retake the lead. Gracie Zumwinkle then put the exclamation point on the period with a shot from the high slot that went bar down behind Rooney to send the Gophers into the second intermission with a 4-2 advantage.
The Bulldogs never relented in the third period and buried Minnesota in a 19-2 shots on goal difference that UMD unfortunately couldn't cash in on until there was 56 seconds remaining. Hughes won a face-off draw in the Gopher zone to the right of Scobee, tipped the puck to Maggie Flaherty and Flaherty found Ashton Bell all alone on the doorstep to get the Bulldogs down one at 4-3l.
Time simply ran out on UMD, and despite outshooting Minnesota 35-28 in the skate, UMD settled for two WCHA points on the weekend against the nation's top-ranked team. Rooney posted 24 saves, while Scoobee made 32 for the Gophers, who improve to 13-1-2 overall and 9-1-2-1 in league action.
UMD (7-5-2, 4-4-2-1) will be away from AMSOIL Arena until Jan. 4 when the Bulldogs host the second annual MN Cup. The Bulldogs will step out of conference play next weekend in the Nutmeg Classic to play Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. at 3:00 p.m. next Friday.