After the University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team performance Saturday afternoon at AMSOIL Arena, its safe to say the Bulldogs will be looking for more than just movement in the national polls next week.
UMD continued on with its current roll over the ranked, earning a Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep over No. 5 Ohio State University with a 4-1 win. The win -- UMD's third-straight over a top-five opponent -- also secured Bulldog home WCHA First Round Playoff ice, locking in no lower than fourth place and putting UMD within two points of the Buckeyes currently grasping on to third place.
"This series was huge and it tells me this team is clicking at just the right time," said UMD head coach Maura Crowell, who is now 9-1 against OSU at AMSOIL over her tenure. "It tells me that these guys know exactly what they want and they are determined to make it happen. I think we are all feeling really good and we know there's a lot more hockey to come, and a lot of big games. You know the next game is always the biggest game this time of year, and they know that, but we are having a ton of fun while we are doing it."
While the Buckeyes were able to hold the Bulldogs off the scoreboard longer than UMD's previous two games, Sydney Brodt still delivered the game's first goal 11:54 into the first period. With the Bulldogs on their second penalty kill of the period, Brodt received a pass from Ashton Bell in front of the benches. Brodt skated patiently into the offensive zone, and then sniped a shot from the circle that beat Lynsey Wallace low blocker side for a 1-0 lead.
Ashton Bell kept UMD's offense flowing in the second period, netting a power play goal -- her seventh so far of the season -- from the extended goal line at 2:06. Anna Klein played the puck from behind the net and Bell, from her favorite impossible angle, found the twine for her 11th goal of the season. Gabbie Hughes, who had assists in both of the earlier goals, cashed one in for herself after chasing down the puck to the left of Wallace, stopping, and snapping the puck bar down over Wallace's glove to push UMD's lead to 3-0 at 17:12 of the second period.
OSU's Tatum Skaggs scored her third goal of the series to open the third period, poking a hole in Maddie Rooney's shutout hopes at the 2:53 mark. Despite outshooting UMD 14-10 in the final stanza, OSU could claw no closer, and it was Hughes who buried the open net goal at 18:03 that put the 4-1 game out of reach for the Buckeyes.
Rooney turned in a 46 save performance -- her third 40-plus stop game over UMD's last four skates. The Bulldogs were 1-of-2 on their power play while holding OSU scoreless in four attempts. OSU netminder Wallace made 24 saves for the Buckeyes, who fall to 17-8-5 and 10-6-4.
UMD will hit the road next weekend to face Minnesota State University, Mankato in Mankato, Minn. Friday's game is scheduled for a 7:07 p.m. start, while Saturday is slated for 3:07 p.m.
BULLDOG NOTES: Ashton Bell has now entered a three-way tie for the third most goals (11) by a defensemen in a single season in program history...The last Bulldog blueliner to post 11 or more goals in a season was Jessica Wong during the 2011-12 season (11)...Bell leads the WCHA with 29 (11g, 18a) points with two games in hand over the nearest defenseman...Maddie Rooney has now had 40 or more saves in three of her last four games...With a goal and an assist Saturday, Sydney Brodt now has 90 career points (34g, 56a) in 133 games...UMD is 9-1, with nine consecutive wins, against OSU at home in the Maura Crowell era...In those nine-straight wins, UMD has outscored the Buckeyes 39-16 and has averaged 4.33 goals a game in those nine-consecutive wins.