MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Minnesota scored three times in the third period to wrest a WCHA contest away from Minnesota-Duluth on Friday night.
Senior co-captain Jen Schoullis supplied two power-play goals to give Minnesota (9-2-0, 7-2-0 WCHA) a come-from-behind 4-1 win on their own ice. Schoullis added an assist for a three-point game, while Megan Bozek also had three points on an empty-net goal and two helpers.
“Really great effort from start to finish,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “I was proud to see the team respond the way they did. I expect them to come out just as hard tomorrow.”
Sarah Erickson supplied the game winner when she drove the net, got her own rebound, and chipped it past goaltender Jennifer Harss.
“We score a lot of pretty goals because we’re a talented line,” Erickson said. “One of the goals before the game was to score the dirty goals. And that’s what happened tonight, we got all dirty goals.”
Erickson credited a play early in the third period where she broke in alone, but was bested by Harss with getting her personal game turned around.
“There’s going to be games like that when you don’t really feel that great and you need a spark to kind of get you going,” Erickson said. “I think that breakaway was a good little spark for me and I didn’t score, so it gave me more motivation to score on my other opportunities.”
Schoullis got her second of the game at 15:04 of the third period to give the Gophers a two-goal lead. Bozek shot the puck wide looking for a tip and the senior captain obliged.
“We’ve actually been working on tipping before and after practice, the linemates and some of the D,” Schoullis said. “It just so happens that was a nice tip there.”
“Up until that point, it was a 2-1 game, and we’re missing our best player,” UMD coach Shannon Miller said. “I thought we were right in the game; it was good.”
The Bulldogs (4-4-1, 1-3-1 WCHA) were playing without the services of Olympian Haley Irwin, away preparing for the Four Nations tournament with Team Canada, and that presented them with another challenge.
“Everybody else was stepping up and really trying to fill that void,” Miller said. “Kacy Ambroz was wearing the ‘C’ tonight, and I thought did a really good job just by role modeling, working hard and blue collar, and just grinding it out.”
Despite being dominated 18-4 on the shot chart in the middle stanza, the Bulldogs struck first. Minnesota turned the puck over trying to break out of its own zone, Bridgette Lacquette fired from center point, and Ambroz, alone in front, deflected the puck by Noora Räty for a 1-0 UMD lead at 7:54 of the second period.
“I thought we had a lot of good chances like that in the first and the second,” Miller said. “Obviously, Minnesota had a lot of good chances and Jenny played amazing.”
The Gophers got that goal back on the power play, getting the puck to the net, where Schoullis got it by Harss. Amanda Kessel and Megan Bozek claimed the assists.
The Bulldogs had the better scoring chances in a scoreless first period that saw them outshoot the hosts, 8-5, but Räty came up with a couple key stops.
“That’s why we have her on our team,” Erickson said. “She’s the best goalie in the world, we believe, and she showed it tonight.”
Räty saved 20 shots for Minnesota, while Harss made 33 stops for the Bulldogs.
“Both goalies were tremendous tonight,” Frost said. “Even though we scored three – obviously, the fourth was an empty-netter – I thought their goaltender played really, really well.”
Penalties proved pivotal in the game, with UMD picking up 10 minors, while Minnesota was whistled for seven, but only one in the third period.
“We talked in between the second and third period there, that if we just had another period like we had in the second period, we’d probably be fine and the pucks should start going in, and they did tonight,” Frost said. “I thought tonight, our composure won us the hockey game, to be quite frank. We were heading to the box along with them, and then we just kept our composure and they kept going to the box, and we were able to capitalize on their penalties.”
Miller saw it pretty much the same way.
“I thought everybody played hard, everybody played well, our freshmen just have to stay out of the penalty box,” she said.
The puck drops for the second game of the series on Saturday at 4:07 p.m. at Ridder Arena.