HANOVER, N.H. — With a 2-0 lead in the second period Saturday night following a 6-2 win the night before, Minnesota-Duluth seemed headed for a two-game sweep of Dartmouth. Then in the words of Duluth coach Shannon Miller, her team just checked out.
The No. 2 Big Green (8-1) scored three goals in the final seven minutes of the second period and kept UMD (8-4) off the scoreboard the rest of the way. Gillian Apps added an empty-netter at the end for the 4-2 Dartmouth victory in front of 1,267 at Thompson Arena.
Dartmouth outshot Duluth 41-20 for the game and dominated possession of the puck for the final two periods, which Miller called her team’s worst of the season.
“We thought we had the game and people stopped skating, we stopped competing, and we had a very embarrassing performance,” Miller said.
For Dartmouth sophomore Cherie Piper, it was a day of redemption. After a Friday night scarred by a ten-minute misconduct penalty and all sorts of near misses at the net, she assisted on her team’s first two goals and scored the game-winner herself.
“I think we had our chances both yesterday and today, and we just buried it in the second period and showed what we can do,” Piper said.
Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak decided to start freshman Christine Capuano in net in lieu of sophomore Stephanie Cochran, who had earned the majority of the starts this season. Capuano stopped 18 of 20 shots.
“I think she deserved a chance,” Hudak said. “She’s been working hard all year, and the last couple of weeks she’s been great in practice. It’s not a reflection of the way Steph played last night, but she had six goals scored against her so I don’t know if her confidence was there.”
Capuano had greater familiarity with the Bulldogs after seeing them play the night before.
“I knew what to expect from shots and who shoots where and what kind of shots they’re good at, so I was prepared,” Capuano said.
More important for Dartmouth, though, was that the Big Green did a better job limiting the space of UMD’s top scoring threats, Caroline Ouellette and Jenny Potter. At times this weekend Ouellette skated circles around the Dartmouth blueliners, but during the second and third periods they were disrupted just enough to allow easier saves for Capuano.
The comeback began with seven minutes left in the second period as Dartmouth showcased its ability to control the puck in the Duluth defensive zone. A sustained possession finally concluded when Piper held the puck behind the net and fed to Katie Weatherston at the crease for the finish.
Weatherston nearly tied the game on a breakaway off the subsequent faceoff but UMD goaltender Riita Schaublin anticipated her backhand.
In the final minutes of the period, the Duluth defense broke down and gave the Big Green plenty of space to maneuver in front of the net. Dartmouth made the Bulldogs pay when Piper took the puck into the high slot from Apps and dished right to linemate Tiffany Hagge, who quickly powered the puck into the left corner of the net.
As the period wound down, Dartmouth senior Sarah Clark was given space to skate in the Duluth zone, and she dished the puck back to the slot where Piper one-timed the puck just under the crossbar for the 3-2 lead with 25 seconds left.
The momentum slipped away from Duluth throughout the second period. The Bulldogs had a 5-on-3 power play that could have iced the game, but instead they turned the puck over at the point to Dartmouth defenseman Louise Pietrangelo, and Duluth’s Tricia Guest was whistled for taking her down on the breakaway.
UMD struck first at the 5:40 mark of the first on a big mess in front of the net, where Capuano could not cover up the puck. Potter earned the goal while Guest was credited with the assist.
The second Duluth goal was another Ouellette rush at 14:53. She retrieved a loose puck at center ice and circled into the Dartmouth zone with Potter on a two-on-two. The two Dartmouth defenders stood in no-man’s land and backed in as Ouellette skated just past them and put the puck inside the left post.
After that play, Ouellette didn’t faze the Dartmouth defense as much, and when she did get her opportunities, she did not show the poise of earlier in the series.
Dartmouth now has a win to build on going into its two-week exam break. Duluth will host No. 6 Wisconsin, an opponent Miller expects to be just as challenging as Dartmouth was this weekend.