The shootout that took place Saturday afternoon at AMSOIL Arena was a scene that was familiar to millions of hockey fans last February, but it was the first 65 minutes of action preceding it that should be fanning the hopes of the Bulldog faithful about the current season.
The No. 4 University of Minnesota Duluth hung on to a 2-2 tie against the No. 4 University of Minnesota, before picking up the extra Western Collegiate Hockey Association point in a 2-0 dominating shootout fashion.
"A much different game today than yesterday," said UMD head coach Maura Crowell. "I thought we had a much better first period overall, and it was good back and forth hockey, and both sides had good chances. It was really a tight game, and obviously the shootout went well. We had good goaltending, good finishes by a couple players and it was a good day for the Bulldogs."
The Bulldogs came out swinging Saturday, a shadow of the squad that suffered a setback to Minnesota the night before. Gabbie Hughes lit the lamp first, 4:32 into the second period after the rookie forward tracked down a shot from freshman defenseman Maggie Flaherty that deflected off a Gopher defenseman's leg. Hughes one-timed it past the outstretched blocker of Sydney Scobee to secure the power play goal and UMD's first lead of the game.
Sophomore winger Anna Klein helped the Bulldogs capitalize on a 5-on-3 power play at the 17:09 of the second period. Freshman defenseman Lizi Norton, from behind the net, slipped the puck through traffic and under Scobee's glove to a waiting Klein who shoveled it past the goal line for UMD's second goal of the afternoon.
Minnesota pulled within one goal at 6:09 of the third period when Nicole Schammel got her own rebound to beat UMD goaltender Maddie Rooney. The Gophers then took advantage of a Bulldog penalty to tie the game at 2-2 after Kelly Pannek redirected the puck past Rooney at 8:29.
From there, the game remained scoreless, despite 39 shots from Minnesota and 25 from the Bulldogs in the 65 minutes of action, including a slim Bulldog 2-1 shots on goal advantage in overtime.
After both teams had secured a league point, Hughes stepped out on the ice as the first shooter in the WCHA mandated shootout. Hughes dragged the puck to the left of Scobee before shooting it across her for the 1-0 lead. Rooney, no stranger to shootouts and arguably one of the best in the college game, if not that world, poke checked the puck away from Minnesota's first shooter.
UMD's second shooter, Ryleigh Houston, beat Scobee five-hole to put the Bulldogs up 2-0, and Rooney did the rest. Facing her Olympic teammate and roommate Kelly Pannek, Rooney slammed the door shut on both Pannek and any need for extra shooters, securing the extra WCHA point for UMD in the process.
Rooney ended the night with 37 saves (and 39 counting the shootout), while Scobee turned away 23 for the Gophers. The Bulldogs were an impressive 2-of-5 with an extra skater, while Minnesota went 1-of-4 on its power play.
The Bulldogs (2-1-1) will play their third-straight top-five ranked opponent next weekend when they travel to Madison, Wisc. to face the No. 2 University of Wisconsin. The Saturday-Sunday series gets underway at 2:00 p.m. both days.
BULLDOG NOTES: Gabbie Hughes has recorded a point in three of her first four outings as a Bulldog after scoring a goal in each game against the Gophers (2g, 1a) ... In fact, five Bulldog rookies in all have now posted three points in their first four games, including Lizi Norton (1g, 2a), Kailee Skinner (3a), Anneke Linser (3a) and Maggie Flaherty 1g, 2a) ... Those rookies are in a multiple player tie as the third highest-rookie scorers in nation ... UMD has posted a shootout win against Minnesota in two of its last four contests ... The Bulldogs own the nation's fourth-best power play (33.3).