DULUTH, Minn. — Haley Irwin and the Bulldogs made a mess of the NCAA’s stingiest defense Friday night.
No. 8 Minnesota-Duluth, lead by Irwin’s hand in all four Bulldog goals, knocked off top-ranked Minnesota 4-2 at AMSOIL Arena. The importance of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association win was obvious for UMD, which now improves to 12-8-1 overall and 9-7-1 in the all-mighty WCHA.
“Our performance tonight was more than playing a game, it was a statement of who we are as a team and as a Bulldog family tonight we played with a great deal of self respect and discipline,” Bulldogs coach Shannon Miller said. “We played the best hockey we’ve played this year, and we will continue to play well. We have our best hockey in front of us.”
Minnesota, making its first appearance in AMSOIL Arena, struck just a minute into the contest on a breakaway goal by Kelly Terry. UMD forward Jenna McParland answered almost instantly with a tally of her own, a shot from the bottom inside of the circle, to knot the game at 1-1 just 33 seconds later. Then at the 10:18 mark, Irwin, who already had an assist on McParland’s first goal, drove to the net to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. A mere 3:06 later, Irwin grabbed her second assist of the game on forward Audrey Cournoyer’s backhanded score to push UMD’s lead to 3-1 after 20 minutes of play.
After a quiet start to the second period, the scoring onslaught continued as the Gophers cut UMD’s deficit to a single goal, the result of a breakaway from Sarah Davis at 12:54. McParland answered again, this time with a backhanded loose puck on the power-play for her second goal of the night. Irwin dished out her third helper on the play to extend the Bulldogs’ advantage to 4-2.
Neither team scored in the final period of play, and despite Minnesota outshooting UMD 33-25, the Bulldogs unseated the newly minted top-ranked team in the country.
Jennifer Harss turned away 31 shots for UMD, while her counterpart in the Gopher net, Noora Raty, made 21 saves. Both goaltenders made just five saves in the third period. UMD was 1-of-4 on the power-play and held Minnesota to 0-of-5 with the extra skater.