DULUTH, Minn. — When Minnesota Duluth scored on a power play to go up 3-0 at 16:11 of the first period, it seemed unlikely that a couple of hours later they would be scrambling in their own crease, desperately trying to prevent Wisconsin from burying an overtime goal to secure a third straight WCHA title.
But the Bulldogs (31-4-1, 24-4-0 WCHA) piled enough bodies in front of Jinelle Zauggs shot at an empty net to keep the puck out and play continuing until Haley Irwin could end the contest 6:32 into the overtime.
We took it up the ice, Heidi Pelttari had a great shot, the rebound came right to me, Irwin said. I knew [Wisconsin goalie Jessie] Vetter was to the right side, so I knew that I had to shoot left. I shot left and it went in.
When it was 3-0 and 4-1, I knew it was far from over, UMD coach Shannon Miller said. Any time you play a good team like that, you know that theyre going to come back.
Wisconsin (27-8-3, 20-5-3) got life from a power play goal of their own with seconds remaining in the opening period, and eventually got back to even just in time to force overtime. They took pride in their comeback, but this year, they were unable to take home the trophy.
Credit our players for never giving up, scoring with about 3 minutes to go in the game to tie it, coach Mark Johnson said. Had an opportunity in overtime; had a couple of real good opportunities in overtime to win it. And when you start the game, thats all you can ask for.
The first ten minutes didnt start the way I envisioned it starting, he said.
The Bulldogs, who hadnt won a tournament since 2003, were the more inspired team from the opening face off.
We came out with a lot of fire, a lot of energy, and a lot of hunger to score, Miller said. When the puck goes in like that for you, you get lucky too. We made some nice plays and did a good job, but you get bounces, and next thing you know, youre up three-nothing.
Frosh Laura Fridfinnson found the net first off a face off from Irwin just 5:24 into the game, and defenseman Myriam Trepanier doubled the lead a minute and a half later.
Saara Touminen dropped a pass to me, and I waited, Trepanier said. I knew Vetter couldnt see anything, because her defender was right there screening her, so I just waited for this hole coming up. As soon as I saw it, I shot and it went in.
Elin Holmlov somehow managed to find the net while prone, and the lead grew to three.
Saara took the shot, she said. I deflected the puck first, and then the rebound came right to me. The girl kind of hit me, so I fell down and managed to get it in.
I guess the stick-handling practice pays off.
When Zaugg banged home a rebound, it served notice that the defending champs would not go down without a fight.
The goal kind of sparked everybody, she said. You go into the locker room, and you were the last team to score, and you kind of have that fire.
Emmanuelle Blais whacked relentlessly at a puck that Vetter tried to cover, pushing UMDs margin back to three.
But Jasmine Giles and Zaugg connected a minute apart to get the Badgers within striking distance heading into the third period.
Zauggs second goal, her 86th in a Wisconsin uniform, gave her the most career goals in the programs history.
Rachel had a great shot from the point, and we had screens and what not, and somehow I was lucky enough to tip that one, Zaugg said.
Wisconsin dominated territorially in the third period, but with UMD playing conservatively, had a hard time getting pucks on net, managing only 3 shots on goal in the frame. Just when it looked like the hosts would be able to hang onto their 4-3 lead and send the crowd of 1,274 home happy, Meghan Duggan made a play for the Badgers.
The sophomore wing carried the puck through the Duluth defense, was hooked to the ice, but managed to get a shot on goal. Kim Martin made the save, but was unable to cover the rebound.
Mallory Deluce arrived before the delayed penalty was whistled and tucked in the tying goal.
Wisconsin ” very resilient of course, but I knew that was going to happen, Miller said. I couldnt have predicted a 4-4 tie at the end of the game, but I knew it was far from over.
I think both the second and third period we really came out and really wanted it, Zaugg said. You could see by the way we were skating, the way we were shooting the puck, and going after rebounds and what not. I think that kind of carried over into overtime, and we were all over it. Had a few unlucky bounces, but nothing we can do about that now.
The worst bounce for Wisconsin may have been great effort by the Bulldogs, who denied Zauggs hat trick that would have won the game for UW with Martin was out of position.
In overtime, they had a really good chance at our net, and we were diving all over the place, Miller said. Haley blocked a shot, and then Heidi Pelttari, our defenseman, blocked another shot in front of the net where there was a scramble. And then moments later, we went down and scored that goal.
Johnson, like many in attendance, didnt understand why a potential icing went uncalled prior to the final goal, but he was gracious in defeat.
Congratulate Duluth on winning the game today, he said. Both teams battled extremely hard at different points of regulation and overtime.
UMD adds the conference playoff crown to the WCHA regular season title they claimed earlier.
You dont win championships and regular season titles without great goaltending, Miller said. We just have a very solid team starting with Kim Martin in net, all the way through our entire lineup.