DULUTH, Minn. - It was the first home sweep for the Bulldogs in nearly three months, but it could not have come at a more important time.
The No. 6 University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team held off a hungry Bemidji State University squad 5-3 Saturday night at AMSOIL Arena, the second-straight outing the Bulldogs slipped past BSU. With the series sweep, UMD is in solid possession of fourth place, and just two points behind the University of North Dakota, currently sitting in third place of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. With the victory, UMD improves to 14-7-3 overall and 12-7-3 in the conference.
In similar fashion to Friday night, the Beavers struck first, a mere 93 seconds into the game in what would be the only goal of the first period. Kimberly Lieder's slap-shot from the top of the left center circle beat UMD netminder Jennifer Harss under her glove, giving BSU the early 1-0 lead.
UMD quickly found the equalizer to open play in the second period, doing something that it didn't do much of in the opening stanza - the Bulldogs shot the puck. After being outshot 10-1 in the first 15 minutes of the first period, and 13-9 overall, Elin Holmlov's slap-shot from the center slot put UMD on the scoreboard at 2:20. Pernilla Winberg netted the second Bulldog goal at 10:41, a put-back on a Jessica Wong shot from the point to give UMD a 2-1 advantage.
After a checking from behind five-minute major on Mariia Posa left the Bulldogs not only down a player for five minutes, but out a defenseman for the rest of the game, UMD's Laura Fridfinnson struck from the extended goal-line in short-handed fashion with 1:25 remaining in the third period. Fridfinnson's third goal of the season stretched the Bulldogs lead to 3-1 to stretch the Bulldogs' lead to 3-1 after two periods of play.
BSU cracked the lid on the third period, scoring 3:17 into the stanza on a doorstep tally from Molly Arola, but a backhanded goal from sophomore Audrey Cournoyer momentarily countered the Beavers momentum at 7:36 to give UMD the 4-2 lead. A give and go, finished by Erin Johnson after 13:08 brought BSU to within a single goal, but the Bulldogs were able to ice the game with 29.3 remaining when Vanessa Thibault's second goal of the season found the back of the empty Beaver net.
Harss made 31 saves en route to her fourth win on the year, while BSU goaltender Alana McElhinney had 18 saves for the Beavers, who outshot UMD 34-23. The Bulldogs were 0-of-2 on the power-play, while BSU went 1-of-6 with the extra skater.
UMD will head to Mankato, Minn. next weekend to take on Minnesota State University, Mankato. Game time is set for 7:07 p.m. Friday night, and 3:07 p.m. Saturday afternoon.