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College women's hockey: Bulldogs push comes too late as Gophers finish sweep

Bulldogs unable to overcome an “incredibly undisciplined” stint late in the second period of series finale.

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Minnesota Duluth players stand in disbelief as Minnesota players celebrate a first period goal during Saturday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. (Clint Austin/caustin@duluthnews.com)
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DULUTH -- The University of Minnesota Duluth hosted its first home athletic competitions in 265 days this weekend when the Gophers visited the Bulldogs in women’s hockey.

The UMD athletic department will have to wait at least another week to celebrate that first home victory since COVID-19 shut down everything in March, however, after Minnesota followed up Friday’s 4-2 win with a 2-1 triumph on Saturday to sweep UMD in WCHA play.

“It just took us a bit to get going,” said UMD senior defenseman and captain Ashton Bell of Saturday’s loss. “If we had some more urgency right off the hop, it would have been a different game for us.”

Bell scored the Bulldogs’ lone goal Saturday with 10:36 remaining in regulation for her team-leading seventh point of the season.

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Mannon McMahon (16) of Minnesota Duluth competes with Anne Cherkowski (11) of Minnesota for the puck during Saturday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. (Clint Austin/caustin@duluthnews.com)

It was part of the push the Bulldogs made late in the third as they outshot the Gophers 15-7 in the final period. Junior center Kylie Hanley nearly tied the game with under two minutes to play, but her shot just missed the target and caught the post instead.

Emily Brown put Minnesota ahead 1-0 nearly eight minutes in and Emily Oden extended the Gophers’ lead to 2-0 with a 4-on-3 power play goal late in the second. Oden’s power play goal came with three Bulldogs in the penalty box. Bell was called for hooking with under four minutes to go in the second and 31 seconds later she was joined by fellow defensemen Maggie Flaherty and Taylor Stewart, with Steward’s boarding penalty coming during Flaherty’s delayed interference call.

Bulldogs coach Maura Crowell called it an “incredibly undisciplined” late second period for her team, who a week ago took five penalties in a 10-minute span in the second period at Minnesota State-Mankato. The penalties are “definitely a concern,” and being addressed, she said.

“It could have cost us that game last Saturday and I think it cost us the game today,” Crowell said. “It's really tough to recover from that. We have three kids in the box at once and, gosh, our five-on-three (kill) was really good. It went to four-on-three and I thought we did a really nice job, but we couldn't get our player out of the box.”

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Anneke Linser (13) of Minnesota Duluth shoots the puck on goal against Lauren Bench (35) of Minnesota during Saturday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. (Clint Austin/caustin@duluthnews.com)

UMD junior goaltender Emma Soderberg, who was pulled for the final 1:40 Saturday, finished with 30 saves and Gophers senior graduate transfer Lauren Bench had 31 saves, with just under half coming in the final 20 minutes.

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The series started out in the Bulldogs' favor on Friday as UMD jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Minnesota rallied to tie and take the lead in the third period.

The Bulldogs are back at Amsoil Arena next weekend to host St. Cloud State at 6:07 p.m. on Friday and 3:07 p.m. on Saturday. As of Saturday, those are the UMD women’s hockey program’s final scheduled home games at Amsoil Arena, as the WCHA has yet to release a schedule beyond 2020.

“Any time we get to play games right now, it's a great opportunity and I'd like to play with a lot more passion,” Crowell said. “We never know when our season might end. So that that was a frustrating point of contention for us this weekend, just not getting everybody going. We had some players that played great on Friday and then didn't play so hot on Saturday we need them to be really good all the time.”

The Bulldogs men’s hockey program is scheduled to host St. Cloud State on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021 for their home opener this season after starting 2020-21 in a pod in the NCHC’s pod in Omaha.

Minnesota 1-1-0—2

Minnesota Duluth 0-0-1—1

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First period — 1. MIN, Emily Brown (Taylor Heise, Grace Zumwinkle), 7:52.

Second period — 2. MIN, Emily Oden (Madeline Wethington, Abbey Murphy), 18:42 (pp).

Third period — 3. UMD, Ashton Bell 2 (Anna Klein, Naomi Rogge), 9:24.

Saves — Lauren Bench, MIN, 11-6-14—31; Emma Soderberg, UMD, 14-9-7—30.

Power play — MIN 1-for-4; UMD 0-for-3. Penalties — MIN 4-8; UMD 5-10.

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