Playing arguable the most offensively aggressive system in the NCAA this year, the No. 6 University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team has been certainly been stifling on defense as of late.
The Bulldogs flexed their No. 2 in the nation scoring defense Friday night, shutting-out Minnesota State University, Mankato 3-0 at AMSOIL Arena. The shutout - UMD's third in a row and fifth in its last seven games - has set the Bulldogs goals against average plummeting to a 1.58. With the win - also UMD's ninth in a row and tenth game without a setback - improves the Bulldogs overall record to 21-7-3. The Bulldogs also improve to 16-2 in the opening round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, and 43-4-3 all-time against the Mavericks.
After being held without a shot for the first six minutes of the opening period, UMD made up for lost time when senior forward Elin Holmlov finished off a sequence of passing between Haley Irwin and Pernilla Winberg. Holmlov's 17th goal of the season came to the left of MSU's neminder Alli Altmann, and on Irwin's pass across the crease, Holmlov roofed the puck at 6:44 to give UMD the lone goal of the first stanza.
A scoreless second period gave way to an early UMD goal in the third stanza , courtesy of a blast from the point through traffic from senior defenseman Jocelyne Larocque for her third goal of the year 2:49 into the final period. Holmlov chased down a puck along the boards, and was rewarded by her effort with her second tally of the night, another puck placed above Altmann. Holmlov's 18th goal on the season came at 8:19, and would stand as the only other offense the Bulldogs would get - or need - for the rest of the night.
Senior goaltender Kim Martin picked up career win No. 67 and shutout No. 16, and improved to 14-5-0 on the year after making 20 saves. Altmann was outstanding for the Mavericks, making 37 saves on 40 shots. UMD was 0-of-4 on the power-play, and after setting a Bulldog program for penalty minutes last Saturday, was called for just a single infraction all weekend.
Both teams will hit the ice again tomorrow, and UMD will have a chance to close out the series with another win. Game-time is set for 7:07 p.m.