Northeastern and Minnesota-Duluth met in a clash of titans Friday afternoon, with Minnesota-Duluth emerging victorious and heading to Sunday’s championship game.
The first period was mostly a quiet one, though Minnesota Duluth dominated in shots on goal, finishing the frame up 12-6 over Northeastern in that category.
Skylar Irving got the Huskies on the board first early in the second period after Söderberg went down amidst a scramble in front of the net.
The game’s first penalty went to Minnesota Duluth’s Brenna Fuhrman for body-checking halfway through the second, but the Bulldogs’ solid penalty kill — ranked third in the WCHA — kept the Huskies from getting another one.
A breakaway by Giguère and then a deke around Frankel with about five to play in the second period nearly evened the score, but some excellent stick work by Northeastern kept the Bulldogs off the board. It was undoubtedly one of Minnesota Duluth’s best chances of the second period as the team struggled to keep their spirits up and the puck in their wheelhouse.
The start of the third period looked as much like a game of keep away as any, until Taylor Anderson got the puck off a Bulldogs face-off win and sent it behind Frankel. It’s hard to say if the goal changed the momentum of the game, but Minnesota Duluth definitely came back with a renewed vigor after Anderson netted one.
“I feel like the the top line sometimes [neutralize] each other ... I had Taylor Anderson [scoring], she’s a Frozen Four killer,” said Minnesota Duluth head coach Maura Crowell post-game. “She had a big goal for us last year against [Northeastern] and that’s where your depth comes comes through.”
Regulation wasn’t enough for these two powerhouses, as the Budlldogs’ late equalizer sent the game to sudden death overtime...or two.
It took 18:15 into double overtime for Naomi Rogge to knock the puck into the net and send Northeastern home to Boston and Minnesota Duluth to their first national title game since 2010.
“The puck was just bouncing in the neutral zone and like, I saw [Gabbie Hughes] flying and then all sudden [Élizabeth Giguère] wound up with it and I was just trying to go harder than that and I called for it, she gave it to me and I just tried to get it off,” said Rogge of her goal.
3 Stars of the Game
1. Naomi Rogge — There was no one who was more clutch in this game than Naomi Rogge, who scored the double overtime game-winner to send the Bulldogs to Sunday’s championship game. What a performance by the senior to keep her team alive and kicking.
2. Aerin Frankel — There’s a reason Frankel is reigning HCA Goaltender of the Year and it’s a good and valid reason: she’s absolutely stellar in net. She was solid and reliable through regulation and always prepared, just like we’ve come to expect from her.
3. Emma Söderberg — Söderberg absolutely stood on her head for the Bulldogs throughout this one. Between sprawling saves and an effective glove, she really kept Minnesota Duluth in this one when the skaters in front of her might have lost some of their momentum.
3 Keys to the Win
1. Don’t get tired — The Bulldogs sent the game to double overtime after a late tying goal by Taylor Anderson. While their energy seemed to wane at some points, they never let it get the best of them and were constant competitors.
2. Focus on Frankel — Knowing that you have a solid goaltender behind you in Emma Söderberg is key, because it gives the offense and defense time to focus their attention on beating the all-star netminder in Frankel.
3. Play your game — The fan section for Northeastern was huge, considering they brought their band, but Minnesota Duluth never let the chants or the energy get in their heads or keep them from playing their game. They didn’t dominate, but they were consistent and able to outlast a star-studded Northeastern roster.