This weekend found Minnesota-Duluth trying to gain momentum in the WCHA with a pair of afternoon games against Minnesota and they succeeded. The Bulldogs swept the Gophers this weekend, winning 3-2 on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday. How’d Minnesota-Duluth pull off this feat?
Friday and Saturday’s games differed a lot in terms of tempo, but the Bulldogs found a rhythm and kept pace throughout both games. Friday’s game was high energy but low scoring until Minnesota-Duluth opened up scoring in the third period. Kelly Pannek and Sarah Potomak found the back of the net for Minnesota, but Katerina Mrázová, Lara Stalder, and Katherine McGovern smoothly elevated the Bulldogs over the Gophers for the one goal win.
Scoring started early in Saturday’s game when Pannek fired the puck into the net for a Gophers goal a little over six minutes into the first period. Less than three minutes later, McGovern answered for the Bulldogs. Late period goals from Maria Lindh (Minnesota-Duluth) and Sophie Skarzynski (Minnestoa) made it a 2-2 game by the end of the first. The second period saw a lot of penalties and more scoring: Minnesota forward Kate Schipper netted one for the Gophers, while Stalder and Ashleigh Brykaliuk each score a goal for Minnesota-Duluth.
That would be the end of the scoring for the Gophers, as the third period saw many chances from the Bulldogs and another Stalder goal. By the end of the game, it was clear Minnesota had lost their steam.
Star Players Not Enough for Gophers
Gophers forwards Pannek and Potomak ended the weekend with four points each, and star seniors Schipper, Dani Cameranesi, and Lee Stecklein all had a point each, but it wasn’t enough for Minnesota to get the edge over the Bulldogs. It is worth noting that Cameranesi is coming off a foot injury, which could be hindering her play.
Minnesota-Duluth’s defense and goaltending is what held Pannek back from scoring more than she already did throughout the series. Pannek was firing on all cylinders throughout both games, but many of her shots were stopped before reaching Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Maddie Rooney, and Rooney also stopped several shots herself.
The Gophers are back in Minneapolis next weekend to take on Ohio State, which will be a good chance for Minnesota to gain back some momentum in the WCHA. The Bulldogs will travel to Bemidji State University to face the Beavers, which could lead to the Bulldogs opening the second part of their season on a winning streak. Now is definitely the time to pay close attention to both teams, especially as they get closer to late season series against #1 Wisconsin.