Bulldogs sink Whitecaps in season-opening series

It wasn’t easy, but a shorthanded UMD women’s hockey team rolled to a pair of exhibition victories to open the season Friday and Saturday against the Minnesota Whitecaps at Amsoil Arena. The Bulldogs, playing with only two defensemen, took home 5-3 and 5-2 victories over the Whitecaps, a professional team that plays in the Western Women’s Hockey League.

“I thought we would get killed,” said UMD head coach Shannon Miller when asked about the defensive conundrum. “I thought if we couldn’t get the puck to forwards, we’d stand no chance.”

But the Bulldogs found a way both nights, using forwards like Hannah Bramm and Shara Jasper on the blue line.

The first game of the season Friday brought a tight game for the No. 7/8 Bulldogs, who pulled out the 5-3 victory.

UMD got two goals from senior Audrey Cournoyer and one each from junior Pernilla Winberg, freshman Alivia Del Basso and freshman Bramm.

The Bulldogs had a 4-0 lead late in the second period, but the Whitecaps mounted a rally to make the game close. A late second-period goal from Amy Stech and two early third-period goals from Allie Thunstrom and Jessica Tyra put the Whitecaps back in the game.

Freshman goalies Kayla Black and Sofia Carlstrom, who are battling for the starting spot, split time in the net for the Bulldogs. Black stopped all 12 shots she faced before being relieved by Carlstrom, who allowed three goals on 14 shots. Saturday brought a repeat of Friday. Again, the Bulldogs took a big lead early and again the Whitecaps rebounded to make the game close.

UMD spread around scoring again, netting goals from junior Jamie Kenyon, Winberg and junior Katie Wilson.

But UMD’s early 3-0 lead didn’t last long. Minnesota’s Thunstrom proved to be a pest to the Bulldogs again, scoring two goals in the final 10 minutes of the second period.

However, the final goal of the game went to UMD’s Zoe Hickel and the Bulldogs pulled out the win.

The Bulldogs easily outpaced the Whitecaps in shots, 33-24. Black minded the net for the first two periods, allowing two goals on 10 shots. She was relieved in the third by Carlstrom, who stopped all 12 shots she faced.

“Kayla played the majority of the game yesterday and had a much stronger performance, so she played the majority of today for that reason,” Miller said Saturday. “But Sofia came in and played very well too.”

The game got a little chippy at the end, with several body checks resulting in penalties for both teams. Jenna McParland left the game after a hit into the boards in the third and did not return.

But the Bulldogs didn’t seem worse for the wear and were happy with the weekend sweep.

“We’re happy to have two wins, but we don’t really focus much on whether we win or lose these games. It’s really truly about playing everyone,” Miller said. “We give everyone some basic things to do and hope they can be consistent and do that, so you have a foundation to build off of next weekend.”

The Bulldogs will get their first big test next weekend when they host WCHA rival Ohio State in a pair of games at Amsoil Arena.

BY TOM OLSEN olsen450@d.umn.edu

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