|Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-5-1, 9-4-1-0 WCHA) vs.
Univ. of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs (9-10-0, 5-7-0-0 WCHA)
Friday, December 8 at 7:07 p.m.
Saturday, December 9 at 4:07 p.m
The Gopher Women's Hockey team will close out the 2017 portion of their schedule with a rivalry series, hosting the Bulldogs of Minnesota Duluth at Ridder Arena on Friday, December 8 at 7:07 p.m. and Saturday, December 9 at 4:07 p.m.
Last time against Minnesota Duluth – On the road at AMSOIL Arena in mid-October, the Gophers earned the series sweep, defeating the Bulldogs 4-1 and 2-1. Caitlin Reilly and Cara Piazza scored in the first period of the opener. After UMD cut the Gopher lead to 2-1 early in the 3rd stanza, Reilly reestablished a two-goal advantage just 28 seconds later on a breakaway, and Taylor Wente added an insurance goal with 4:27 to play. Sidney Peters made 35 saves for the win. In the rematch, the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead after a first-period power-play goal by Ashton Bell and held that lead into the third frame, but Sophie Skarzynski knotted the score 1-1 at the 4:45 mark, and Reilly netted the gamewinner with 3:46 remaining. Alex Gulstene got the start and the victory with 26 saves. Reilly added an assist for a 4-point series, and Jackie Pieper recorded her first point as a Gopher, assisting on Skarzynski's goal.
Analyzing the Bulldogs – After starting the season with a 2-6-0 record, Minnesota Duluth went 7-2-0 in their next 9 games, briefly moving above .500 prior to last weekend's series at Wisconsin (more on that momentarily). They are currently 4th in the WCHA standings with a 5-7-0 conference record.
The Bulldogs have relied on their youth for offense, as their top four players in scoring are freshman and sophomores. Freshman Naomi Rogge's (#9) 10 goals and 16 points lead the team, and fellow freshman Ashton Bell (#26) is second in both those categories with 7 goals and 12 points. Sophomores Jalyn Elmes (#20) and Sydney Brodt (#14) are two of four UMD players with 7 assists apiece; Elmes is 3rd in scoring, having lit the lamp 4 times herself for 11 points, while Brodt has 3 goals and 10 points.
Senior Jessica Convery (#30) has seen a significant majority of the action between the pipes, starting 17 of UMD's 19 games, going 9-8-0 with two shutouts, a .921 save percentage and 2.13 goals-against average. Sophomore Catherine Johnson (#31) started the other two games, losing both, yielding 8 goals on a combined 49 shots.
Last weekend for Minnesota Duluth – LaBahn Arena in Madison was not a friendly place for the visiting Bulldogs as they were swept by Wisconsin, 5-1 and 3-1. The Badgers did all of their scoring in each game before UMD got on the board. Abby Roque, Brette Pettet, and Sophia Shaver each had two goals and an assist in the series for Wisconsin, while Anna Klein and Naomi Rogge lit the lamp for Minnesota Duluth.
Gophers split with Bemidji State – This past weekend's two games between Minnesota and Bemidji State were very similar through the first two periods of each contest. The Beavers opened the scoring in both games, the Gophers responded with a pair of goals each night to take the lead, and BSU got a tying goal before the second intermission. In the opener, Caitlin Reilly erased Minnesota's 1-0 deficit with a power play goal and Emily Brown scored to put the Gophers up 2-1 before Bemidji State's Paige Beebe knotted the score again. The teams played a scoreless 3rd stanza, forcing overtime, but Grace Zumwinkle blasted home a slap shot with 26.7 seconds left in the extra frame to give Minnesota the 3-2 victory. Jacqueline Kaasa lit the lamp for the Beavers early in the rematch, but that lead lasted only 23 seconds as Alex Woken scored for the Gophers in a net-mouth scramble. Zumwinkle launched another bomb that put Minnesota up 2-1, but Bailey Wright netted the equalizer for Bemidji State. This time the Beavers capitalized in the 3rd period, as Kaasa converted on both a 2-on-1 rush and Emily Bergland scored on a breakaway; the Gophers couldn't find a response and fell 4-2. Sidney Peters made a combined 48 saves, while BSU's Lauren Bench stopped 58 shots. Zumwinkle added an assist to her two goals to lead the Gophers with 3 points. Kaasa recorded 2 assists on Saturday to go with her two goals.
Baldwin named WCHA monthly award winner... AGAIN – Gopher senior co-captain Sydney Baldwin was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Month for November, powered by GoodWood Hockey, as announced by the league on Monday. It's the second-consecutive monthly award for Baldwin, who led defensemen in the conference with three goals, 0.38 goals per game, one power-play goal and a plus-12 rating in the Gophers' eight November contests. Congratulations, Sydney!!
Skate with the Gophers – Saturday, January 13
The annual Skate with the Gophers event has been scheduled for Saturday, January 13, following the GWH game against Vermont (game time at 4:07 p.m.). Children in eighth grade and under are invited to skate with Gopher players after the game.
Registration for Skate with the Gophers is required, and online registration is now open. Capacity is expected to be reached, so act quickly to secure your spot. Check-in will occur during and immediately after the game on the Ridder Arena concourse. Participants are encouraged to leave their skates in their cars and retrieve them at the conclusion of the game. Note that participants must bring their own skates; rental skates will not be available.
National team updates...
Amy Potomak released from Canada's centralization roster – Future GWH forward Amy Potomak was one of two players released from the Canadian Women's National Hockey Team centralization roster, as announced by Hockey Canada on November 20. Clarkson alumna Erin Ambrose was the other player released.
As part of a statement included in the press release, Potomak said, “I am disappointed right now but I understand it's not my time and this will make me better moving forward. I'm going to take some time and decide what my next steps are.”
Canadians take two from USA this week – The Canadian Women's National Hockey Team defeated their American counterparts twice in recent action, winning in overtime 2-1 this past Sunday in St. Paul and following that up with a 2-0 shutout in Winnipeg last night. The teams traded goals in the 2nd period on Sunday, with Megan Keller scoring on the power play for Team USA but Marie-Philip Poulin netting the equalizer later in the frame. Going to a 3-on-3 overtime, Brianne Jenner lit the lamp to give Canada the victory just 37 seconds into the extra session. Maddie Rooney (USA) made 24 saves, while Shannon Szabados stopped 27 shots. Last night's game remained scoreless deep into the third period, but Jillian Saulnier put the Canadians ahead with just 3:10 remaining, and Laura Fortino added an empty-netter. Geneviève Lacasse recorded the shutout with 32 saves, while Alex Rigsby stopped 19 shots for the U.S.
The teams play two final pre-Olympic head-to-head games, meeting next on Friday, December 15 in San Jose at 9 p.m. CT (shown on NBC Sports Network), followed by a matchup on Sunday, December 17 in Edmonton at 6 p.m. CT (shown on NHL Network).
Around the WCHA
Recent action – Ohio State and St. Cloud State played to a pair of ties, 2-2 and 0-0, with the Buckeyes claiming both shootouts 1-0 to get the extra WCHA standings points; Huskies goaltenders Janine Alder and Emma Polusny each made a start and each stopped 41 shots, while OSU's Kassidy Sauvé made a combined 47 saves. Meanwhile, Minnesota State won a pair of exhibition games, defeating the Minnesota Whitecaps 5-1 and 5-2; Sara Bustad netted a hat trick in Saturday's game for the Mavericks, while Gopher alumna Becky Kortum scored for the Whitecaps.
Upcoming games – This weekend's action features a pair of non-conference series and two Friday matinee games. Playing on Friday and Saturday afternoon, Wisconsin visits St. Cloud State, and Bemidji State hosts RIT. Minnesota State gets visited by Lindenwood, with that series starting Friday evening before a Saturday afternoon rematch. Ohio State is idle.