Six thousand miles is a long way to travel for a hockey game. But that’s the distance Team Japan trekked to visit Duluth and take on the UMD women in an exhibition game Saturday at AMSOIL Arena. Before puck drop there was a short on-ice ceremony where the teams exchanged small gifts in honor of their first meeting. Ohara, Japan, one of Duluth’s sister cities, gave Duluth the peace bell near Enger Tower in 1993.
At the request of Team Japan, a five-minute overtime period and a shootout followed the 60 minutes of regulation play.
“It’s pretty cool because it’s the Japanese Olympic Team and they’re getting ready for Sochi in February,” head coach Shannon Miller said. “I think this was good for them—playing us, Wisconsin, Minnesota, St. Cloud.”
It was a slow start for the Bulldogs, with Japan taking the lead less than seven minutes into the first period. UMD had issues moving the puck and creating an offensive flow for much of the first frame.
On the other end of the ice, sophomore goaltender Kayla Black, who allowed one goal on six shots, went long stretches without seeing a shot. UMD’s offense bounced back for a late-period goal from freshman center Ashleigh Brykaliuk to forge a 1-1 tie at the first intermission.
The second period was more of the same, with the teams exchanging goals to enter the second intermission squared at 2-2.
The Bulldogs started the third period with a five-minute power play thanks to a major penalty on Tomoko Sakagami for checking from behind. It was all UMD from that point on, as the team’s top line got rolling after a shaky start.
Jamie Kenyon broke the tie with a goal less than two minutes into the third, and freshman winger Katherine McGovern added a goal to double UMD’s lead. Kenyon potted two more to finish with a hat trick and make the final margin 6-2.
“Just the fact that it was our first game, the first period was what it was,” Miller said. “The second period you’re more relaxed, your feet are moving. And by the third period you find your stride. We got better as the game went on. For me that’s the positive and now we just have to keep going.”
The overtime period ended without a goal for either side, but Japan dominated the shootout with three goals in five attempts, while UMD’s lone shootout goal came from junior Meghan Huertas.
The Bulldogs open their regular season against Connecticut Friday night at AMSOIL Arena. The Stanley Cup will be on display at the AMSOIL concourse from 4–6 p.m., courtesy of Norm Maciver, assistant general manager for the NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks.
BY NICOLE BRODZIK firstname.lastname@example.org