DULUTH, Minn. — In a game pitting the No. 4 and No. 5 ranked teams, Minnesota-Duluth came out on top in the 31st meeting of the WCHA’s top rivalry-a 4-2 victory over Minnesota in front of 1500 at the DECC on Friday night.
The Bulldogs (17-3-1, 15-3-1 WCHA) opened up an early lead 13:10 into the game, scoring only 24 seconds into their first power play opportunity. Senior Krista McArthur took a pass out high from Michaela Lanzl and shot from just inside the blue line. The shot hit the right pipe and bounced past Minnesota net minder Kim Hanlon’s glove side for the first score of the game.
UMD had the best of play for the majority of the first period and opened up a 2-0 lead when Mari Pehkonen tipped a sharp centering pass from defender Ashley Waggoner. The tip hit Hanlon’s pad and again bounced off the right post and over the line.
Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson said her Gophers (15-7-1, 10-6-1) did not play like themselves in the first but reverted to form for the remainder of the game. It showed at the start of the second as the Gophers outshot the Bulldogs 16-5 in the period. However, the UMD defense held and goalie Riitta Schaublin had a stellar period. The Gopher’s Whitney Graft had a semi-clean breakaway but somehow Schaublin stopped the shot to force the face off. As Graft left the ice she looked back at Schaublin as if to say “How’d you do that?” For all their work, the Gophers found themselves behind 3-0 at the second intermission.
The difference in the game was UMD’s resuscitated power play. The Bulldogs finished the night 3-for-4 on power play opportunities while the country’s number one penalty kill unit held Minnesota to 1-for-6. Noemie Marin scored UMD’s third goal on the power play, and Sara O’Toole made the score 4-0 early in the third period.
“We’ve been working on it since January 4th and this is the second weekend,” UMD coach Shannon Miller said of the power play. “It’s a start, but we still have a long way to go.”
The Gophers finally broke through the Swiss wall on their 28th shot as Jenelle Philipczyk skated by a UMD defender and shot to Schaublin’s glove side. The puck rebounded to her stick, and she put it away to break the shutout.
Only three minutes later the Gophers cut the deficit to two as Andrea Nichols scored on the power play. It was the last red light of the night as UMD regrouped and held on for the two goal lead.
UMD can tie the overall series at 14 victories with a win tomorrow night when the teams face off again. The rivalry lives on.