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  • Gophers Sweep Bulldogs by the Skin of Their Teeth



    Friday night’s first goal came when Bulldog Sydney Brodt carried the puck up the right side and scored on Sidney Peters at 4:25, Demi Crossman assisting. Then Katherine McGovern took a checking penalty at 10:16. As the resulting power play drew to a close, Patti Marshall shot from the bottom of the right circle through traffic to score her first collegiate goal at 12:09. Sydney Baldwn and Kate Schipper assisted. Lee Stecklein went to the box for elbowing at 13:32, but the Gophers killed the penalty. Then they pulled ahead when Taylor Williamson carried the puck up the left side, tapped the puck back to Lindsay Agnew, who scored with a shot left side shot at 16:47. Megan Wolfe had the second assist.

    Shortly after second period started Gopher Dani Cameranesi took a tripping penalty (1:31) and then Bulldog Brooklyn Schugel was caught on the same offense at 4:38. Neither power play resulted in conversion. Agnew then made the same pilgrimage for hooking at 7:01. Duluth stepped up their puck cycling: to Michelle Lowenhielm in the right corner, lateral pass to Brodt on the left side, and then she passed down to the right circle, where Jalyn Elmes shot through a screen into goal, scoring at 8:41. Katerina Mrazova took a tripping penalty at 9:28. On the resulting power play there was a shot through traffic and goaltender Maddie Rooney went for the save, but Sarah Potomak tapped the puck into goal before she could glove it at 10:04. Cameranesi and Stecklein had the assists. Then Cameranesi earned her second penalty of the game, interference, at 13:32. Another right circle shot, this time by Lara Stalder, which would have gone wide, but it hit Ashleigh Brykaliuk’s skate and deflects into goal at 14:07. McGovern had the second assist.

    In third period Minnesota piles on the shots, trying to break the tie, and barely give Duluth a chance to shoot. Bulldog Maria Lindh takes a holding penalty at 2:57 for dumping Nicole Shammel on the ice. However Minnesota can’t make full use of the penalty as Wolfe goes to the box at 3:56 for roughing after running into Rooney. Both penalties harmlessly expire. Catherine Daoust goes for tripping at 10:02 and the Gophers have a few good shots, but can’t convert. The tiebreaker comes when Stecklein kicks the puck out to Kelly Pannek, who then passes it back to Stecklein, who shoots from the left. Rooney blocks the shot, but Sarah Potomak catches the rebound to score on the right side at 13:20. Cara Piazza takes a checking penalty for knocking down Lara Stalder at 18:12 and Rooney is pulled with 46 seconds left in the game, but Duluth can’t re-tie the game. Gophers win 4-3.

    Saturday’s game was a closer game than Friday’s game and a rough one. So many bodies hit the ice, some unassisted, but most had a helping hand or stick from the other side. The refs mostly let them play. Before things got particularly scrappy Stalder flew up center ice and shot high, hitting the cross bar as the puck slid into the net at 3:55. Duluth took a too many players on the ice penalty at 7:04 and had McGovern serve it. There was a mess at Duluth’s crease and Piazza knocked the puck in at 7:21 after it bounced off Rooney, Kate Schipper and Sydney Baldwin had the assists.

    The Bulldogs were on the attack buzzing around Minnesota’s net. Peters butterflied across the crease, trying to block shots from all angles, but Stalder up the left side and flipped the puck over her leg into goal at 8:11. This time McGovern assisted. As the Bulldogs had scored on two of their four shots, the Gophers were not happy. Cameranesi tripped Lowenhielm as she entered Minnesota’s zone at 9:20, which sent her to the box, but Duluth barely had chances to even shoot on the resulting power play. Sidney Morin took an interference penalty at 14:25 and Elmes went to the box at 19:05 for checking—both penalties successfully killed by the Bulldogs.

    Right after Elmes’s penalty expired in second period, Sophie Skarzynski made a great push for the puck in Duluth’s zone. However, she couldn’t make a scoring opportunity out of it and the puck eventually landed on Peters’s stick at the crease. No one was around to take the puck off the goaltender’s hands and more confusingly, Brykaliuk was allowed to skate right up to her uncontested before any Gopher defense showed up to take the puck.

    A little later Stalder was attempting a hat trick right circle and Stecklein steamrolled her; Stalder somersaulted before she hit the ice. Stecklein’s checking gave her a two-minute sit down, which started at 5:35. At 10:08 Schipper also paid a visit to the box when she tripped Jessica Healey as the Bulldog tried to exit her own zone. As soon as her penalty expired Schipper had the puck on a break away. Rooney came out of her crease to meet her, which left the net empty as Schipper wrapped around it, but she couldn’t quite line up the shot before Rooney returned. Elmes hit Williamson into the boards and it looked like Williamson might have hit her head, but there was no call. Instead Shammel took a roughing penalty against McGovern at 17:26 and the Gophers almost had a shortie, but alas the puck rang off the post.

    Third period started with Linnea Hedin tripping Caitlin Reilly and rolling the Gopher across her back at 1:19. Puck cycling ensued on the resulting power play and Pannek scored her first of the season from the left circle off a rebound at 2:08. Wolfe and Stecklein had the assists. Bodies from both sides continued hitting the ice and the Bulldogs had a couple of chances. Rooney dove out of her crease to belly flop onto the puck and Duluth took their time out shortly thereafter with 9:11 remaining in the third. At 18:21 Mrazova went headfirst into the boards and Pannek was sent to the box for roughing. The crowd was furious about the call, and I didn’t personally see the hit, but Mrazova was slow to get up, looked to be in a lot of pain. The Bulldogs nearly scored on the power play, but instead regulation ended in a tie.

    Overtime started right after the goalies switched sides. Both teams got some shots on net was the crowd waited to see if it went to a shootout. Then Schipper passed the puck to Potomak to clear Minnesota’s zone. She passes right to Pannek as they enter Duluth’s zone, who then passes it back, so that Potomak could jam the puck into the net under Rooney’s elbow on the left side at 3:57. Gophers win 3-2 in overtime, shots 45-17 also in Minnesota’s favor.

    As delightful as the Gophers are to watch, this is not the over-poweringly dominate team of the past couple years. Before Friday’s game the Gophers had only scored once in ten power plays. Minnesota’s coaching staff shook up play formation, going to 2-3 and 1-3-1 styles after overtopping the last few years to better match the playing style of their current team and it seems to have worked, as Minnesota started getting power play goals this weekend. Head coach Brad Frost will also continue tinkering with the lines, as he’s still looking for the right chemistry to roll four substantial lines. In the mean time keep watching, this is heart-pounding hockey. Since one can’t assume it’ll be the Gophers’ victory, it makes watching them win all the more exciting.

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