The UMD women’s hockey team rolled past one of the nation’s top-ranked teams for a pair of unexpected wins last weekend. The Bulldogs, playing short three players, upset the No. 3/4-ranked Wisconsin Badgers Saturday and Sunday at Amsoil Arena, shutting down one of the country’s highest scoring offenses by scores of 2-0 and 1-0.
“You play a team that you know has more talent than you do,” said head coach Shannon Miller, “you’re more willing to share the puck and move up the ice together because you’re trying to save your own life, basically. So we were more disciplined this weekend.”
The wins were the first of the year for the unranked Bulldogs, who now sit at 2-2-0 overall and in the WCHA.
The game may have reminded fans of the last time the two teams met. The Bulldogs knocked off the then No. 1-ranked Badgers, 3-1, in the WCHA Final Face-Off on March 2.
But this year’s team hardly resembles last year’s. In place of an established senior goaltender, the Bulldogs have an untested freshman in net. And did she ever step up big.
Kayla Black, playing in only her second weekend of collegiate hockey, shutout the Badgers two nights in a row, a team that includes the likes of 2012 Patty Kazmaier Award winner Brianna Decker.
“We came together as a team and played well,” Black said. “I felt like I was at the top of my game.”
UMD started the series with a surprising 2-0 victory Saturday.
Junior Brienna Gillanders scored just 1:34 into the game for the Bulldogs. It looked like the teams could be in for a high-scoring weekend, but that was not the case.
There was just one more goal scored in the game, a Jenna McParland score that sealed the deal for the Bulldogs with less than three minutes to play.
Black was stellar in net, stopping all 31 shots she faced. In contrast, UMD put only 17 shots in net in the game, but walked away with the victory.
Saturday, the Bulldogs finished the upset, narrowly pulling out the 1-0 win.
All it took was goal from the left point by senior Jessica Wong in the final two minutes of the first period for UMD to get the sweep.
Black did the rest, stopping all 25 shots she faced. The Bulldogs played more solidly in this game, testing Wisconsin goalie Alex Rigsby with 28 shots on net.
The Bulldogs didn’t exactly show that they have a premier offense, but their young goaltender may be a force to reckon with.
“She’s getting better, she’s getting more comfortable,” Miller said. “She’s a freshman, so you don’t really know what to expect. Last week was her first college games ever and she was so nervous. Now it’s like she kind of gets it. She’s just getting better each week.”
Black and the Bulldogs now hit the road for their first away games of the year, a Friday/Saturday series with Minnesota State-Mankato.
BY TOM OLSEN firstname.lastname@example.org