The University of Minnesota women’s hockey team is the defending NCAA Division I champion and unanimous No. 1 team in the country. They sure played like it this weekend, although the shorthanded UMD women gave them a run for their money. The Gophers swept the Bulldogs in pair of games last weekend at Amsoil Arena.
UMD fell 4-0 in the first game of the series Friday in front of 1,267 fans, but the Bulldogs had a much stronger showing than the scoreboard indicated.
Although the shots were near even (27-24 Minnesota), the Gophers were able to cash in on the power play, scoring twice with a man advantage, while UMD went 0-for-3.
The two teams skated an uneventful first period, but Minnesota exploded on the scoreboard with three goals in the second. Bethany Brausen scored midway through the period and Maryanne Menefee doubled the lead just 30 seconds later. Three and a half minutes later, Menefee was at it again, giving Minnesota a big 3-0 lead.
UMD’s Jamie Kenyon put the Bulldogs on the board with her first goal of the season early in the third, but that was all UMD could muster. Minnesota’s Megan Bozek scored the game’s final goal and the Gophers took the 4-0 victory.
“We played really well in the first and stuck to the game plan and played with them in the third,” said UMD head coach Shannon Miller. “I don’t know why we broke down in the second. We played six outstanding periods against Wisconsin (three weeks ago) and didn’t allow a single goal.”
Minnesota goalie Noora Raty, always a thorn in UMD’s side, took the win with a 23-save performance. UMD freshman Kayla Black stopped 23 of the 27 shots she faced.
“(Raty’s) a great goalie and she’s tough, but we can’t let that intimidate us,” Kenyon said. “She’s aggressive and will come out and challenge us. We just need to take shots and look for the backdoor opportunities.”
On Saturday, the Gophers showed the strength of their team, dropping the Bulldogs 4-0 and outshooting them 33-17.
It was domination by the Gophers from the start, with UMD only putting up three shots in the first period and four in the second.
Minnesota got two goals from Bozek in the game, one from Amanda Kessel and an empty-net goal from Rachel Ramsey.
Raaty stopped all 17 shots she faced, finishing 40-for-41 in the series. Black again started in net for the Bulldogs and was hit for the loss in her 29-save performance.
Facing the nation’s top team is enough of a challenge in itself – but the Bulldogs also played the series shorthanded, missing three of their top six forwards.
“We are struggling on offense with all of the injuries we have,” Miller said. “We have to play good defense and win 1-0 and 2-1 games.”
The Bulldogs will now take a weekend off and prepare for a road matchup against WCHA rival St. Cloud State next Friday and Saturday.
BY TOM OLSEN firstname.lastname@example.org