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  • Minnesota Shutouts Duluth to End the Year


    After having a “bad tie” the night before, the Gophers aimed to do better against Duluth this afternoon. Both teams were ready to play making the first several minutes of the game occur mostly in the neutral zone as the players picked each other’s pockets. Michelle Lowenhielm had the first real chance of the game when she made a low bouncing shot from the blue line that goaltender Sidney Peters quickly dispatched. Grace Zumwinkle fell next to Catherine Daoust, but it looked like a slip and not Bulldog assistance.

    A Bulldog knocked the puck onto Peters’s pads straight off a faceoff, which she deflected. Then Reagan Haley sent the puck flying in the crease during a Duluth flurry, though she still couldn’t get it in goal. Olivia Knowles took Anna Klein down along the Minnesota backboards without a call then her team spent several minutes repeatedly entering Duluth’s zone without getting any shots off. Klein had a nice high slot shot into Peters’s chest.

    The Gophers were stuck mostly on defense for much of the first period, but they finally figured their offense out for the last part. Taylor Wente flew down the left side, swooped past the crease, and just as she entered the right circle she lofted the puck into goal at 14:45. Tianna Gunderson had the lone assist on that goal. Minnesota was buzzing after that and scored again before the first goal could be announced. This occurred when Zumwinkle made a pass from the left boards to Sophie Skarzynski between the circles and then Nicole Schammel tipped in Skarzynski’s shot at 15:26. There was a mess in Duluth’s right corner and Reilly sent the puck out of the fray to the center whereupon Skarzynski slid in and scored on goaltender Jessica Convery’s glove side at 18:50. Alex Woken had the second assist. Minnesota finished first period leading 3-0.

    The Gophers were on the attack from the start of second period. Naomi Rogge tired to take out Cara Piazza’s skates, but Piazza managed to stay upright and put a shot on goal before Rogge’s tripping penalty kicked in at 1:40. The Gophers were puck cycling until Reilly put a shot on goal, which Convery blocked, but Schammel was at the doorstep and she knocked the rebound into goal on her knees at 3:07. The goal went under review, but was declared good and Wente got the second assist.

    Sydney Baldwin nearly scored on the rebound while Convery was down. Then Katie Robinson took a slightly delayed interference penalty at 7:28. Peters had to scramble a couple times in the crease, but the Gophers killed the penalty. Woken zipped up the right side and made a shot from the circle into Convery’s chest. Then the Bulldogs repeatedly slipped into Minnesota’s zone with the puck, but the Gophers didn’t give them the time to set up their shots. Ashton Bell and Ryleigh Houston did get a chance when they tried to score at the crease from the right side, but Peters denied them.

    Schammel took the puck back to Duluth’s end down the right side and made a back pass to Zumwinkle and as Zumwinkle got her shot off, Jalyn Elmes hauled her to the ice, which caused Zumwinkle to wipeout against the goalpost. Elmes’s well-earned holding penalty kicked in at 17:18 and the Gophers had many wonderful chances, but were unable to convert on this power play. Instead Schammel went up the left side and passed to Zumwinkle after entering Duluth’s zone. This allowed Zumwinkle to approach Convery down the center, tricked the goaltender into lunging forward, and then ducked around her to tap the puck home on the left side at 19:51.

    Zumwinkle and Knowles were grinning and laughing as they lined up for the third period puck drop. It was a relaxed and fairly low energy period as the Gophers’ intent had clearly switched from scoring to maintaining the shutout. After four minutes of play Rogge had a solid shot from the left circle that sailed a little over the goal. Then Minnesota was dinged with a too many players on the ice penalty at 6:11, which Gunderson served. The penalty expired two minutes later without the Bulldogs recording a single shot. Bell made a shot from the right side that Peters blocked with a leg swipe, but it was loose just outside of the crease with two Bulldogs bearing down. Gopher defense cleared the puck just in the nick of time.

    There was more end-to-end puck chasing with Peters making a couple more saves then Elmes checked a Gopher in Duluth’s left corner and went to the box at 13:22. The Bulldogs killed it, which was unsurprising as the Gophers only put up three shots all period—and they likely came from the fourth line, which got some nice time this period. Reilly took an interference penalty during a faceoff at 16:49. On the power play Sydney Brodt nearly scored when her right side shot hit Peters and the puck flipped over her to land on the goaltender’s back. Peters immediately leaned forward and gloved the puck, which was resting on the stitched on “3” of her “37,” and the referee whistled the play dead.

    Duluth got frantic in the last minute of play, trying not to get shutout, but all their efforts failed as Minnesota controlled the puck and hung on until the final buzzer. Minnesota beat Duluth 5-0, preserving Peters’s second shutout of the season, and entered the midseason break on a high note. The next time the Gophers will be in action is on January 5th at 7pm CT against the Minnesota Whitecaps in an exhibition.

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