DULUTH, Minn. — St. Cloud State appeared in a WCHA semifinal for only the second time in the programs history. The first produced a disappointing 9-0 loss to Wisconsin.
Their second attempt at the leagues final weekend again ended with the same one-sided score, but the Huskies (18-15-5, 11-13-4 WCHA) made a game of it for much of the contest.
Jocelyne Larocque fired a shot from the left point that was deflected into the SCSU net by Emmanuelle Blais to open the scoring for Minnesota-Duluth (30-4-1, 24-4-0) at 17:20 of the first period.
We were a couple of inches away from making it a 1-1 game and turning the complexion of the game, Husky coach Jeff Giesen said.
The deficit remained one nearly halfway through the second period, then the Bulldogs exploded for four goals before the second intermission.
Im very pleased with our offensive attack in the second period “- everyone contributing, sharing the puck, and lots of different people scored, UMD coach Shannon Miller said.
Although Minnesota-Duluth is no stranger to the WCHAs penultimate round, having advanced at least that far every season, no player on the current roster had ever won a conference semifinal, something the Bulldogs had not achieved since 2004.
This time, UMD advances to the championship game as the top seed. Number one seeds are 7-0 in the championship game over the history of the WCHA.
Elin Holmlov keyed the second period outburst with goals 24 seconds apart.
I had a great pass on the first goal from [Blais], Holmlov said.
Left alone in the slot, she one-timed it past Kendall Newell with Haley Irwin also earning an assist.
She got her second seconds later on the power play, on a shot that looked much the same.
That one obviously got away from us a little bit, Giesen said. Duluths a pretty darn good team when they get it going. We started out well and just kind of faded fast.
When Laura Fridfinnson deflected in a shot after another minute, a close game quickly became another nightmare for SCSU.
Haley Irwin netted a pair of goals, and Sara OToole, Erin Olson, and Saara Touminen also found the net for the final margin.
Were obviously very pleased with the performance today, starting with the goaltender Kim Martin, early in the game when St. Cloud generated some good offense, Miller said.
Kim Martin made a couple of big saves in the first period to keep the game scoreless, stoning Sammy Nixon on a partial break, then denying a Husky attempt on the power play when they had numbers down low.
I feel confident in the net; I feel relaxed having the team in front of me, Martin said. It feels easy to play right now. Everything is going our way.
Kim made some great saves which helped with our momentum to go back the other way, Irwin said.
Perhaps the scariest moment in the game for the home team came when Martin made a save and remained on the ice after the whistle.
I had some trouble with my knee, but it is good now and wont be bad tomorrow, she said.
For St. Cloud, it was just one of those days when nothing went right. The one time they did get the puck into UMDs net, the referee waved the goal off, ruling that the puck had been deliberately kicked in.
I dont think nine-nothing is any indication of how our team played, SCSU captain Laura Fast said.
Unfortunately, that is how the final chapter of the Huskies season will read.
We take pride in what weve done here in the four years, senior Newell said. I think weve done a lot of great things for the program, been a part of some huge teams.
The Bulldogs can now turn their attention to the championship game.
We got to play the entire bench, thats always good this time of the season when you can play everybody, Miller said.
It difficult when youre playing the second game, because weve been in that game a few times, and it is a tough turnaround time. Obviously, we have an advantage. We have a three-hour time difference from the time when we complete playing to when they will, and it is an advantage when you have to turn around and play the next day.