Minnesota-Duluth got the best of special-teams play and parlayed that into a 2-0 win over visiting Cornell and a series sweep.
“I’m extremely proud of our team this weekend,” coach Shannon Miller said. “We played with great discipline, composure, and we were resilient. I thought we were all those things for six periods this weekend, and this team can win a national championship.”
Ashleigh Brykaliuk and Zoe Hickel scored in the first six minutes of the second period for the Bulldogs (10-4-2, 5-4-1-1 WCHA).
Kayla Black made 22 saves to earn the shutout, the biggest when Cornell (3-6-0, 3-2-0 ECAC) had two short-handed breakaways just after the halfway point of the opening frame. Black denied Brianne Jenner on one attempt, and stoned Jillian Saulnier a bit later.
“Those two players are so good, and when they get free, they’re taking the puck to the net by themselves; they’re so skilled,” Miller said. “So that was huge for us, turning the momentum.”
In hindsight, Cornell likely needed a tally there for a different outcome.
“That certainly would have helped,” coach Doug Derraugh said. “It makes it a totally different game. We had two of our best breakaway people in Brianne Jenner and Jill Saulnier, and the goalie did a great job of keeping it out.”
The Bulldogs got a short-handed two-on-one rush of their own a minute into the second period and Brykaliuk ladled a pass to Jenna McParland that wound up behind her, but she sent it back and Brykaliuk was standing in front of a wide-open net.
Less than five minutes after that short-hander, Lara Stalder fed Hickel going to the net after the Big Red had got one player back on the ice while on a five-on-three penalty kill, and Hickel snuck the puck by Paula Voorheis.
“We had a little letdown there in the second period, and they took advantage on a couple of opportunities,” Derraugh said. “That changed the whole game.”
“I thought our power play was good, even though we were one-for-nine tonight,” Miller said.
The game had a couple scary moments for each side. Taylor Woods went heavily into the boards after a checking infraction on the Bulldogs at the end of period one, and five minutes into the final period, Stalder took a stick around the neck area and went down at center ice. Both were able to return to action.
Cornell is now off until a key game with Mercyhurst in December, while UMD heads to Bemidji State for a crucial league series to close out November.