Jenelle Philipczyk skates on a line with Erica McKenzie, the WCHA scoring champion, and Gigi Marvin, the league’s Rookie of the Year. Philipczyk is less well known and receives less attention from opposing defenses than her wings.
That relative anonymity worked to the advantage of the sophomore center from Woodbury, Minn. Late in a deadlocked third period, Philipczyk found herself alone in front of the net, and she deflected Marvin’s shot past Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Riitta Schaublin.
“Gigi did all of the work, working the puck out of the corner,” said Philipczyk. “She just got a shot on the net, and I tipped it. I think maybe the goalie wasn’t ready for it.”
“My back was to the net, and I was way up by the hash marks,” Marvin said. “All of a sudden I hear J yelling, ‘Shoot the puck!’ I was like — okay.”
Philipczyk’s goal at 16:05 of the third period gave Minnesota (27-9-1) a 2-1 victory. The Gophers did have to survive a late power play by the Bulldogs (22-8-3) after Bobbi Ross was sent off for tripping just 17 seconds later.
“I didn’t see it, but my assistant said it was a good call,” said Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson. “We just had to kill it off. We had some great work by our penalty killers that really pumped up our team.”
“We’ve been pretty good lately,” Halldorson said. “We’ve got some people that we use primarily in those situations — people like Whitney Graft, Becky Wacker, Bobbi Ross, [Marvin and Philipczyk], and some other players too. They’re just great at blocking shots and working hard.”
Opposing coach Shannon Miller agreed that special teams were key. Minnesota scored its first goal to tie the game 1-1 on the power play.
“I’m really proud of our team today,” she said. “I thought we worked extremely hard and played very well. The difference I think was the power play. We were 0-for-5 and they were 1-for-6 and there’s your game.”
The team that scored first won all four regular season meetings between the two teams. The Bulldogs got the crucial first goal this time, off the stick of junior Noemie Marin.
Said Marin: “I think it was a combination of a lot of teammates — a great pass from the defenseman, and then I just chipped it to [Jessica Koizumi], she shot on net, and I just crashed the net.”
The goal came just 2:35 into the contest, but freshman goalie Kim Hanlon didn’t allow UMD any more. Hanlon finished with 20 stops, including denying Koizumi on a second period breakaway.
One key for Hanlon was recovering mentally from the early goal.
“It was an odd-man rush, I made the first save, and they capitalized on the rebound,” she said. “So just forget about it, back to 0-0, and I knew our players would come back and get another one.”
The Gophers did just that on their first power play attempt at 7:56 of the first period. Graft found Ashley Albrecht in the high slot, and Andrea Nichols got her stick on Albrecht’s high wrist shot, deflecting the puck past Schaublin’s outstretched glove.
“Ashley did a good job of getting the puck to the net,” said Philipczyk. “Andrea, she’s always in front there working, and she tipped it in.”
From there, the goalies and the defenses took over until late.
“In the third period, they only got two shots,” Hanlon said. “We did a great job of getting in front of the shots — that helped me a lot.”
Schaublin turned back 37 shots for the game. The only one to elude her after the first period came when the UMD defense lost track of Philipczyk.
“I was surprised at something like that, but we capitalized on it and won the game,” said Philipczyk.
“We’re real excited, because that’s a strong UMD team that we just beat, and it took a team effort,” said Halldorson. “We got great goaltending, big goals, and solid penalty kills all night. I’m real proud of our team.”
When asked about her team’s energy level heading with a quick turnaround upcoming on Sunday, Marvin said it was pretty high.
“It was an emotional win, and we’ve been on a roll the past couple of weeks,” she said. “It’s just a lot of fun to play hockey right now.”
The Bulldogs will now wait for the NCAA selection committee to announce their fate tomorrow night. The result likely clinched the fourth home ice in the NCAA quarterfinals for the Gophers.
“We know we’re playing, it’s just a matter of who, and we won’t have home ice,” said Miller. “But we know that we’re playing — don’t you worry about that.”