Jan. 11, 2009

 

Courtesy of Minnesota Duluth

It wasn’t the fastest goal in the history of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s women’s hockey, but it was certainly one of its loudest.

The No. 3 Bulldogs’ struck just  :15 seconds into their Saturday night clash with the No. 1 University of Wisconsin, knocking off the previously undefeated Badgers 4-0 in the confines of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in front of 1,436 Maroon and Gold faithful.  UMD improves to 13-6-2 overall and 8-5-2 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with the triumph.

“This team said something very important about themselves tonight without even talking,” said head coach Shannon Miller, who improves to 23-17-7 against the Badgers.  “We’ve been in pieces after Christmas break because of geography and Germany (MLP Cup), and those pieces came together as a whole for 60 minutes, and they did that remarkably well.  I’m extremely proud of my team’s performance tonight, from the net all the way out.”

Sophomore Haley Irwin ignited the DECC just  :15 seconds into play when she took a pass across the ice from rookie forward Pernilla Winberg to beat Badger netminder Jessie Vetter through the five-hole.  The goal, UMD’s second fastest of the season, stretches Irwin’s scoring streak to seven games strong, and gave UMD the early 1-0 lead.

After holding the Badgers without a shot for the first 11 minutes of play, UMD survived a flurry of action in its end before senior forward Sara O’Toole found the puck on her stick just inside the Bulldog blueline.  O’Toole methodically waited as sophomore forward Laura Fridfinnson beat the last Wisconsin defender and the pass sprung Fridfinnson in on Vetter alone.  Fridfinnson rewarded O’Toole’s patience by scoring on the breakaway, giving UMD a 2-0 lead at 12:12 in the opening stanza.

Fridfinnson would strike for her second tally of the game at almost the identical time in the second period.  Junior forward Saara Tuominen slid the puck across the Badger net to Fridfinnson, who one-timed the puck past Vetter for a 3-0 lead at 12:20 in the second stanza.  The goal was Fridfinnson’s second power-play tally of the season.

Though the Badgers outshot the Bulldogs 10-5 in the final period of play, UMD had the final word when junior blueliner Jaime Rasmussen took a pass from O’Toole in the slot and found all net, sealing the 4-0 win with just 22.5 seconds remaining in regulation.

 

UMD goaltender Kim Martin, who picked up her second shutout in as many outings, collected a season-high 31 saves to anchor the Bulldogs backline.  It was also the second clean-sheet for Martin at the DECC against the Badgers of her career, with the first one of the same score in last year’s 4-0 NCAA championship game.  Wisconsin’s Vetter  made 23 saves on 27 shots, and had come into Saturday night’s contest with an NCAA-leading 0.83 goals against average.  The Badgers, who also had their 20-game unbeaten streak snapped, are now at 18-1-2 and 12-1-2 in the WCHA.

 

While the Bulldogs were 1-of-4 on the man advantage, UMD smothered Wisconsin’s NCAA-best power-play, leaving the Badgers a dismal 0-of-7 on the evening.  UMD has now held Wisconsin to a meager 0-of-17 on the power-play at the DECC in their last two meetings in Duluth.

 

The two teams will tangle once more tomorrow afternoon at the DECC, with the puck scheduled to drop at 3:07 p.m.

 

BULLDOG NOTES:  Tom Hansen will cover the Bulldogs action Sunday on 610 AM KDAL…UMD was without the services of junior forward Emmanuelle Blais, who is out 2-3 weeks with a stress fracture in her foot…Haley Irwin’s scoring streak, which began on Nov. 28, is now seven games strong…Irwin has registered six goals and three assists in those seven outings…Irwin has also now tallied nine points (5g, 4a) in just seven all-time meetings with the Badgers…UMD is now 4-1 against Wisconsin at the DECC over the past two seasons, including four straight wins…The last two Bulldog-Badger contests at the DECC have resulted in the same 4-0 score in favor of UMD…The Bulldogs, who entered Saturday’s skate with a 41.8 shots on goal  a game average, were held to their third lowest shot output of  the year with 27…Wisconsin held UMD to 25 shots in both contests earlier in the season in Madison…Saara Tuominen's two assists on the night move her just one point away from the Bulldog 100-point club...Tuominen is sitting on step with 99 career points (32g, 67a)...She will become the eighth player in UMD history to have tallied 100 points, and is currently the No. 8 leading scorer the program all-time...Jaime Rasmussen has scored more goals from the blueline this season than any other Bulldog defenseman with five tallies, a career-high for the junior...UMD is now 7-2 during its current nine game home ice stretch.