There was quite the line to get into Ridder Arena this evening, as the Gophers were giving away “ugly” hats to the first 500 in attendance for their game against Minnesota-Duluth. Like many games, play began with a little puck chasing as both teams started feeling each other out and while there were a few chances, nothing was particularly solid. Gophers caused a mess at Duluth’s crease, which ended when goaltender Jessica Convery covered the puck. Then Katie Robinson took a checking penalty at 4:46. The Bulldogs had issues entering Minnesota’s zone on the power play, but eventually managed to get in and even cycled the puck a little before it expired. Right after the Gophers were back to full strength, a Bulldog put a nice shot on Sidney Peters, which she caught.
Minnesota attempted a few flybys on Duluth and then Sydney Baldwin put a shot on goal from midrange in her own zone. Then Naomi Rogge put a shot on goal from the left side, which kicked off a flurry, and turned into a mess at Minnesota’s crease with Peters’s down, but they managed to clear the puck. Kippin Keller tried to backdoor the puck, but Convery denied her. Linnea Hedin caught a back pass and tossed it into Peters’s chest from the left circle. Peters had to make a diving save and then Anna Klein was shoved out of the Minnesota crease for getting too close. Rogge and Sydney Brodt tried a play down the left side to beat Peters, but were also denied.
Taylor Wente and Grace Zumwinkle approached Duluth’s goal until Zumwinkle made a left lateral pass just outside the crease for Wente to drive the puck home through Convery’s 5-hole at 14:14. Nicole Schammel had the second assist. After that the Bulldogs had some more decent chances, especially on a Gopher turnover. Then Lindsay Agnew lobbed the puck into Convery’s chest from the left circle and Alex Woken did the same from the slot. Katrina Mrazova blew a Gopher off her skates without a call, but Minnesota still finished the period leading in shots, 13-7, and goals, 1-0.
Zumwinkle started second period off with a hard shot that just went wide. That allowed Minnesota to go on an extended cycling shift through Duluth’s zone without any direct shots, but they did apply pressure. On a Bulldog attack Peters slid across the crease to get in position, but accidentally slid too far and went out of the crease entirely—luckily for her the puck flew wide of the open net. The Gophers used their timeout at 6:57 to recover from an icing after being trapped by the Bulldogs in their own zone. Another Baldwin left point shot nearly went in then Patti Marshall’s right point one landed in Convery’s glove. The Bulldogs were doing a good job intercepting passes, but seemed to have issues hanging onto the puck after they got it in their sticks through the first half of the game.
Woken’s slot shot hit Convery’s stick and bounced over the net. Rogge ran over Wente’s stick, which sent the Gopher tumbling to the ice and her stick flying through the air. Then Caitlin Reilly, Woken, and Jalyn Elmes were locked together over the puck and flying toward Convery before the Gophers were sent crashing into the backboards. Ashton Bell went to the box for checking Wente at 14:25. While the Gophers did a lot of nice puck cycling and logged shots, they were unable to convert. The score remained unchanged through the end of the period.
44 seconds into third period Woken took a high sticking penalty. The Gophers spent the penalty attempting shorthanded goals, with Keller and Reilly getting the best chances. Then Wente shot from about the left circle and Zumwinkle knocked it in on the backdoor, right side, as she fell to the ice at 3:31. Again Schammel had the second assist. The Bulldogs had a flurry going and Peters came out to block the initial shot, but Bell sent the rebound to Mrazova who slide the puck through a defender’s skates into the back of the net at 5:30. Ryleigh Houston had the second assist. Elmes took a tripping penalty at 5:56. This allowed Marshall to set up Zumwinkle for a left point slap shot that Caitlin Reilly tipped in on the right side at 6:48.
Peters rose up a little to catch a puck, but it flew up and before she could grab it, at least six skaters crashed into her and the net, which allow the lone Gopher still standing to clear the puck. The Gophers briefly buzzed around the Duluth zone, which had Convery twisting around in her crease. Houston and Bell made a nice tic-tac-toe as they carried the puck through Minnesota’s zone before Bell banged it home over Peters’s head from just outside the crease at 11:56. Elmes had the second assist. This sent the Bulldogs into action and they kept up their assault for several minutes. Peters faced a lot of shots including blocking two shots to her leg pads in a row from her doorstep. Cara Piazza took a slashing penalty at 14:01. As the Bulldogs continued to press for a tying goal, Peters blocked an initial shot, but then one of her defenders fell in the crease while the puck was still loose in it. This caused enough confusion that Mrazova was able to poke the puck into goal on the right from behind the goal line at 15:14, tying the game. Houston and Bell assisted.
This kicked the Gophers back into action and they pressed to retake the lead. However, they weren’t able to generate any more good chances in regulation. Instead Brodt had a breakaway, which Peters denied, and then the Bulldogs caused a mess at the Gopher crease after some serious puck cycling. In the ended though, neither team could slip another puck past. When the final buzzer sounded the game was still tied 3-3 with the Gophers just leading the Bulldogs in shots, 26-22. Two minutes later and the sudden death portion of the game began.
Zumwinkle nearly ended things as soon as overtime started, but Bell knocked her down as Zumwinkle got her shot off and Convery caught the puck. Then Schammel tried from the top of the left circle and that went into Convery’s central mass. Duluth used their timeout at 3:46. Then Bell had a great shot on goal that deflected off Peters’s raised glove. However, neither team managed to score in overtime and the game officially ended in a tie with a shootout ensuing for the extra WCHA point.
Minnesota chose to go first and put out Baldwin, Emily Brown, and Sophie Skarzynski for the required three round, of which only Brown scored. Duluth put out Bell, Mrazova, and Michelle Lowenhielm—with Mrazova coming in big yet again to keep the Bulldogs in the game. After that Schammel, Rogge, Agnew went before Houston scored to end the shootout and take the final point for the Bulldogs. The teams finish the series Saturday at 4pm CT.