The University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team had never lost a home opener in program history in six contests prior to Friday night's game against Western Collegiate Hockey Association foe Ohio State University. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, all good things eventually come to an end.
OSU scored early and then held on to upset No. 7/8 UMD 3-1 at AMSOIL Arena in front of 1, 302 fans. The setback is the first ever for the Bulldogs on an opening skate in Duluth, and only the second time in program history UMD has stumbled out of the gate. The Bulldogs are 12-2 all-time in season openers.
"We came out flat," said head coach Shannon Miller after the game. "We lost every face-off and foot race and all of a sudden it's 2-0. We then panicked because it was 2-0, even though there was 90% of the game still left. We had good momentum and good chances in the second period, but it looked like we got really tired and didn't play as a team, didn't stick to the game plan. That's just frustrating for everybody. Not just the coaches but the players too."
The Buckeyes stomped out to an early lead, capitalizing on a Bulldog turnover on the blueline. The turnover resulted in goal by OSU's Kayla Sullivan just 55 seconds into the opening period. OSU doubled that lead just six minutes later on the power play when Hokey Langan snuck the puck past Kayla Black after a scrum in front of UMD's net at 6:56.
The Bulldogs cut their deficit to a single goal after Pernilla Winberg rushed the net and senior center Katie Wilson tucked home the rebound at 13:54 of the first period. Wilson's goal - the first of the 2012-13 season for UMD - was assisted by Winberg and sophomore Shara Jasper, who has been filling in at defense the past two weeks, but ended up on Winberg's and Wilson's line with the scratch of Zoe Hickel for the night.
The Buckeyes struck for a third time early in the third period, a breakaway goal by Paige Semenza that came 4:12 into the final stanza. UMD struggled to put shots on net for the entire contest, with just six shots registered in the second and third period and the fewest shots in a game recorded - 17 - since UMD was held to 14 against Wisconsin back on Dec. 4, 2009. OSU outshot the Bulldogs 25-17 for the night, but was also held to just six shots in third period.
Freshman goaltender Black got the nod in goal for UMD, her first career start as a Bulldog. Black made 22 saves while OSU's Chelsea Kapp made 16 for the Buckeyes, who improve to 3-0-0 on the young year.
While UMD regained sophomore defenseman Brigette Lacquette from Team Canada camp last week, and senior defenseman Jessica Wong from injury, the Bulldogs were still without four players Friday night, including blueliner Tea Villila and forwards Vanessa Thibault, Hickel and Dana Gallop.
"I have to be understanding because we didn't practice in those lines or in those power plays because those people were missing all week. Yes we played disjointed, and I shouldn't be surprised because we didn't get to practice together. However, I still feel like if we would have won foot races, stuck to the game plan and just played as a team, it wouldn't have been beautiful, but it could have been better than it was. Our whole team needs to be better than that."
Both teams will hit the ice again tomorrow afternoon at AMSOIL at 4:07 p.m.