DULUTH, Minn. — Minnesota broke loose with a three-goal middle period on the road in Duluth and went on to defeat the Bulldogs 4-1.
Maryanne Menefee connected twice for the Gophers (11-0-0, 7-0-0 WCHA) and Bethany Brausen and Megan Bozek added a goal each.
Junior wing Jamie Kenyon scored for Minnesota-Duluth (3-5-1, 2-4-1 WCHA).
Brausen broke a scoreless tie at 9:29 of the second period, whacking in a centering pass from Meghan Lorence. The tally was the junior captain’s first of the season.
“We were just getting chance after chance,” Brausen said. “It just wasn’t going for us and then we got that one right off the faceoff. It was really a line effort. If [Kelly] Terry hadn’t won that puck and [Lorence] hadn’t just passed it right to my stick, that puck would never have went in the net.”
The trio played together during the Gophers’ playoff run in March, but hadn’t skated together in this campaign.
“We tinkered with our second and third lines throughout the week and it paid some dividends there with that big goal,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said.
A half-minute later, Menefee doubled the lead when she won a battle for the puck at the UMD blue line and went in alone on goaltender Kayla Black.
“[Amanda] Kessel made a nice pass right across the ice and I somehow got like a little chip past, so we were kind of both in a foot race,” Menefee said. “[The UMD defenseman] was kind of holding on to me and I was holding her off and keeping the puck away. It paid off and I just made it past her and shot low blocker and somehow it went in.”
Menefee converted a centering pass from Hannah Brandt on a power play for her second goal of the game and eighth of the year.
“We were actually practicing that in practice today,” Menefee said. “Kessel and Hannah will move it and I’ll just keep sliding out until I find an opening. It was just there and Hannah made a really, really nice play.”
Kessel and Brandt were both held without a goal for one of the few times on the season, but they each had two assists.
“I think our depth kind of overwhelmed them a bit; they’re a little dinged up,” Frost said.
The Bulldogs were playing without two of their top forwards in Pernilla Winberg and Aleksandra Vafina, while Audrey Cournoyer’s minutes were limited due to injury.
UMD coach Shannon Miller liked parts of her team’s game.
“That was the best we’ve played offensively, anyway,” she said. “We’ve had really strong defensive games, but offensively, that first period was the best we’ve played.”
Minnesota’s Noora Räty and Black each made 23 saves.
Menefee said the game was the most high-paced thus far in her young NCAA career, as the Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with the Gophers, especially in the first period.
“We had real good momentum and were the better team, I thought, in the first period,” Miller said. “We had real good scoring chances tonight, even in the second period when we broke down in our own zone, we had eight scoring chances and four of them were very good. But we were just bad in our own zone in the second period and it cost us the game.”
The Bulldogs had a 10-9 advantage in shots on goal over the opening 20 minutes.
“Duluth is a good team,” Frost said. “They’re definitely one of the better teams we’ve faced.”