ERIE, Pa. – Minnesota Duluth advanced to their first Frozen Four in 11 years thanks to an overtime goal from captain Ashton Bell to give them a 1-0 win over Colgate in the NCAA quarterfinal Monday night.
In addition, it was UMD coach Maura Crowell’s 100th win at the school and her first-ever NCAA win – over her alma mater, at that.
Bell scored the game’s only goal unassisted, picking off a pass in the neutral zone and skating in on Colgate goalie Kayle Osborne and pinging the puck bar down to end the game 6:39 into the extra frame.
“They clogged things up in the middle and made it difficult to get shots through. We just kept with it and it worked out for us in the end,” said Bell. “We were confident heading into OT. We didn’t have much nerves. We got our nerves out in the first period. We wanted to prove ourselves.”
The two teams played a defense-heavy back and forth game for more than 65 minutes where neither team was able to light the lamp. Much of the action happened in the neutral zone as both teams tried to disrupt puck movement and force turnovers. While each squad was able to move the puck into their offensive zone, they found it difficult to get in on net for quality looks.
The game featured a number of near-misses, especially early on, as nerves and learning a new opponent sent a lot of pucks wide and over the net. Neither team seemed to be able to quite put everything together as great setups fizzled out with light shots or solid zone entry led to stray passes.
“For the most part we played the game we wanted to play,” said Colgate coach Greg Fargo. “Duluth did a great job defensively. They were in our way most of the night.”
Colgate started the game with energy and momentum, but Duluth finished it that way. Crowell said she thought her team took a bit of time to settle in and great play from goalie Emma Soderberg kept the game scoreless while they found their bearings. She finished the game with 30 saves, including 12 in the first period. It was a stellar bounce-back showing for the junior who was pulled midway through the Bulldogs’ last game in the WCHA semifinal after giving up five goals to Ohio State.
The Bulldogs came out of the third intermission with energy and Bell said the team knew they had it in the bag.
“We’ve had to win games in a variety of different ways. I think that makes us battle tested,” said Crowell. “What you learn through wins and losses throughout the season carries you for the end of the year. It wasn’t a situation that we hadn’t been in before.”
This was Minnesota Duluth’s eighth one-goal game this season.
“It’s no surprise to me that they were able to pull this off because they’ve been doing it all season long.”