It might have been 41 days between games for the No. 6 University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team, but Friday night, against the nation's third-ranked team, it was like the Bulldogs never left.
UMD picked up right where it had left off, blanking No. 3 Ohio State University 2-0 at AMSOIL Arena. The win, which took place in front of families of the players for the first time since March, extended a Bulldog home-winning streak against the Buckeyes to 10 games that began back on Jan. 30, 2016. It was also the third-straight Western Collegiate Hockey Association triumph for UMD, who have allowed just one goal in its last three games.
The gritty Bulldogs, already missing four players out of the line-up, struck midway through the first period. Anna Klein's lone goal of the opening period was a statement in effort, as the senior forward outraced three Buckeye players before beating OSU goaltender Andrea Braendli high and glove side from the edge of the circle at the 11:54 mark. Klein's goal, her NCAA-leading seventh of the season, was assisted by junior center Gabbie Hughes.
The Bulldogs biggest threat Friday night didn't come from their nationally ranked offense, however -- it came in the form of junior goaltender Emma Soderberg. Soderberg was unflappable between the pipes en route to her third shutout in seven games and fourth game without allowing a goal. As the Buckeyes applied some offensive pressure in the final 40 minutes, outshooting the Bulldogs 20-12 over that span, Soderberg stayed calm and collected. So calm, in fact, that after a penalty kill was served up for UMD with just 3:14 left in the third period, Sodberg and her defensive core made such a stand that within seconds of the penalty elapsing, UMD rallied offensively. The result was a goal from junior forward Taylor Anderson on the empty net to cement the Bulldog inevitable 2-0 win.
Soderberg made 34 saves against the Buckeyes, tying a career-high in her first win against a top-3 team. Braendli had 20 stops for OSU, who despite outshooting UMD 34-22, continued to be outscored by the Bulldogs at AMSOIL. UMD has now outscored OSU at AMSOIL 41-16 in the last 10 games -- all Bulldog wins. The Buckeyes fall to 5-4 with the loss.
"I said to the team after the game, it wasn't necessarily easy by any means, you know, we had some great luck some great opportunities and Klein nailed one big one early in the game, but it was tough," said UMD head coach Maura Crowell, who is now 10-1 all-time against OSU at home. "They are physical and they keep coming at you in wave after wave. Our goalie played tremendously well and made everything look calm back there. They had some great looks, some great shots and just a beautiful shutout for her and a really gritty competitive performance from our squad."
UMD will hit the ice against the Buckeyes tomorrow afternoon at AMSOIL. The puck is scheduled to drop at 3:07 p.m.
BULLDOG NOTES: With her NCAA-best third game-winning goal, Anna Klein also reclaimed her spot as the nation's leading scorer with seven goals in seven games ... Klein now has 12 points (7g, 5a), and also leads the country with a 1.71 points per game average ... Klein has posted at least a point in every UMD game so far this season and is riding a career-besta seven-game scoring streak ... Gabbie Hughes dished out two assists Friday night, pulling her two points closer to her climb towards 100 career points ... Hughes now has 96 points (40g, 56a) in three seasons as a Bulldog ... Emma Soderberg has now played three-straight games without allowing a goal, and is tied for the most shutouts (3) in the NCAA ... the Bulldogs are allowing just 1.43 goals per game, the first time they have held opponents under two goals a game since the 2016-17 season.