ST. CLOUD, Minn. — In one of the biggest upsets in NCAA women’s hockey history, St. Cloud State stunned No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory.
The Bulldogs (23-3-2, 21-3-2 WCHA) led 3-1 at the halfway point when UMD coach Shannon Miller subbed No. 3 goalie Anna-Kaisa Piiroinen into the game. The Huskies (8-18-4, 6-15-3) lit up Piiroinen for three goals in the final three minutes of the second period and UMD could not recover. No team with as many as 18 losses other than the 2002 St. Cloud State team had ever beaten an opponent ranked as high as No. 2 in the USCHO.com poll.
Assistant captain Carrie Holdorf scored the game-tying and game-winning goal, two of the other four Husky seniors scored the other two goals, and sophomore goalie LauriSt.Jacquesstopped 34 of 37 shots in the stunning upset. The defeat was a serious blow to the WCHA regular season championship hopes of the Bulldogs.
UMD jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Karine Demeule scored first, and Caroline Ouellette doubled the score at 10:48 when she stripped the puck at St. Cloud’s blueline and walked around two Husky defenders for the unassisted goal. But unlike yesterday’s 4-0 defeat in which the Huskies trailed 3-0 after a period, St. Cloud maintained a heightened level of intensity after falling behind.
“The biggest difference from yesterday to today was the fact that we didn’t play well on Friday for about 10 minutes,” said SCSU coach Jason Lesteberg. “Today, our team played all 60 minutes and we capitalized on our opportunities. I give a lot of credit to our defense. The girls stayed aggressive and kept believing in each other. As a result, we got a big win.”
SCSU senior forward Melanie Pudsey netted her first goal of the season at 11:29 in the first period to put the Huskies on the scoreboard. Her goal was set up by Bobbie Anderson and Jacqueline Jensen, who fought hard on the boards behind the net to get a great pass to Pudsey, who was waiting in the low slot. Although the Huskies were outshot 11-5 in the period, they went into their locker room for the first intermission down just 2-1.
In the second period, the Bulldogs increased their lead to 3-1 at 8:22 with a goal from Samantha Hough. Just after the midway point in the period, UMD pulled Riitta Schaublin, the national leader in save percentage, for Anna-Kaisa Piiroinen, who hadn’t played since Jan. 29.
The Huskies took full advantage of the rusty UMD keeper. Captain Tina Ciraulo was the first to score on a wrist-shot goal from the crease off a pass across the low slot by Jensen.
“We did not care which goaltender was in the net for the Bulldogs,” Ciraulo said. “We knew we could win today. We were mentally ready to go, we played all 60 minutes, and our hard work finally paid off.”
Holldorf came through with a crucial goal at 18:31 to tie the game at 3-3 as she was assisted by Ashley Stewart. The game-winning goal came just before the second intermission at 19:41 with Holldorf’s clutch backhander in the low slot.
The Bulldogs inserted their third goaltender, Patricia Elsnore (Sautter), at the beginning of the third period. The final frame proved to be intense as both teams had eight shots on goal, and neither team was able to score.
UMD had one last chance to tie the game with 12 seconds left off a faceoff in the Husky zone. However, the tough defense of the Huskies and the big play of SCSU goaltender Lauri St. Jacques paid off in the end. The win snapped a three-game St. Cloud losing streak, and it was their third win in history over UMD.
UMD has next weekend off but returns to action February 26-27 when they host arch-rival Minnesota. UMD will retire Maria Rooth’s jersey on the 26th and honor the current UMD seniors. St. Cloud State will visit North Dakota for a pair.
Correction: This page initially stated that St. Cloud State was the first team with 18 losses ever to beat a team ranked as high as No. 2 in the USCHO.com poll. In fact, the Huskies also accomplished this feat against UMD on Feb. 24, 2002. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 3 in the country from Jan. 21 to Feb. 11 and from Mar. 4 to Mar. 11, but they were ranked No. 2 during the period in between. USCHO.com regrets this error.