MINNEAPOLIS — Sophomore Sarah Potomak scored the game-winning goal with 5:40 remaining as the No. 3 Golden Gopher women's hockey team defeated No. 4 Minnesota Duluth by a score of 4-3 in game one of this weekend's WCHA series at Ridder Arena Friday night.
Minnesota (4-1-0, 2-1-0 WCHA) was led by Potomak's two-goal effort, and the Gophers also received two points from senior Lee Stecklein on a pair of assists. Freshmen Patti Marshall and Lindsay Agnew also scored goals for the Maroon & Gold.
Minnesota Duluth (3-1-1, 2-1-0 WCHA) received 32 saves from goaltender Maddie Rooney, and Sydney Brodt recorded two points on one goal and one assist. Three different players scored goals for UMD as the Gophers handed the Bulldogs their first loss of the season.
An intense, back-and-forth game saw the teams combine for 22 penalty minutes. Both teams capitalized twice on the power play with Minnesota going 2-for-5 while holding UMD to 2-for-6 with the man advantage.
Tonight's game-winner. pic.twitter.com/57cscJpBq0— Minnesota W Hockey (@GopherWHockey) October 15, 2016
"This was such a gritty effort tonight from our team," head coach Brad Frost said. "To beat obviously a very good team like Duluth the way we did was great. Patti Marshall got her first goal there and our power play came alive there after some early struggles, so that’s big for us."
Minnesota outshot Minnesota Duluth, 36-23, for the game after each team registered seven shots on goal in the opening period. Sidney Peters finished with 20 saves in her fourth win of the season.
"I thought Sid made some good saves here tonight, which we needed," Frost said. "She hasn’t played real hockey games here in three years. It’s going to take some time. She's seen Bemidji and Duluth here, and they are the two best teams that she’s faced now going into her fourth year. She’s coming along, and we have faith in her."
UMD got on the board first when Sydney Brodt's shot slipped past Peters. However, the Gophers responded with a pair of goals by Marshall and Agnew to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Marshall scored her first collegiate goal on the power play at the 12:09 mark before Agnew tallied her second goal as a Gopher with 3:13 remaining in the period.
"That’s two games in a row that we’ve given up an early goal and just really feel like our team is sulking a little bit," Frost said. "We got after them and said no more. No matter what happens, we have got to respond, and I thought they did that after the other goals that were scored."
The second period saw the teams combine for three goals, all of which came on the power play. UMD's Jayln Elmes scored at 8:41 of the middle frame to tie it at 2-2 before Potomak netted her second goal of the season and first of the game. Stecklein fired a shot from the top of the slot that deflected off Dani Cameranesi straight to Potomak on the doorstep, and she knocked it past Rooney to regain the one-goal lead at 3-2 at the 10:04 mark of the second.
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The Bulldogs responded with a power-play goal by Ashleigh Brykaliuk at 14:07 to send the teams into the second intermission tied up at 3-3.
The game looked like it could be headed for overtime before Potomak scored her second of the game off assists from Kelly Pannek and Stecklein at the 13:20 mark of the third.
"It felt good [to score two goals tonight]" Potomak said. "I thought that me, Kelly, and Dani blended really well together. On that last goal, I was just in the right place at the right time. Dani set one up nice for me, too. I thought overall our team played really well together to get the win."
UMD had a chance on the power play late in the game when Cara Piazza was called for checking with just 1:58 remaining. The visitors pulled Rooney with 46 seconds to go for a 6-on-4 advantage, but the Gophers held on.
"To play 6-on-4 there at the end and find ways to block shots and really get after it was awesome," Frost said. "The third period I thought we got after it pretty good, out-shooting them 18 -4 and really locking it down. We're really happy with the win, a big three points against a great team, and we know it is going to be a challenge tomorrow, but we are looking forward to it."
The Gophers and Bulldogs face off in game two of the series at 4:07 p.m. CT Saturday afternoon at Ridder Arena.