DULUTH, Minn. - Sometimes the final score defies all logic and completely contradicts the previous 60 minutes on the ice.
That was the reality for the University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team Saturday night at AMSOIL Arena, as the Bulldogs dropped a 3-2 decision to Ohio State University. The loss sets up a deciding game three between the two squads that will determine who advances to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Face-Off semifinal game next Friday at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn.
"Our team played outstanding tonight, and we deserved to win the game, there's no question" said UMD head coach Shannon Miller. "I'm really proud of our goalie Kayla Black, I am proud of every single one of my players and how they played tonight. Tomorrow night is a new test, and it's a big test. We want to advance to the tournament, so it's a test we are going to have to pass."
Despite outshooting the Buckeyes 10-1 in the opening period, UMD waited to take over the lead until 9:27 into the second period. The brilliant play started from rookie center Ashleigh Brykaliuk skating wide right with the puck, passing it across the slot to junior winger Meghan Huertas, who dropped it for junior winger Zoe Hickel to bury over the left shoulder of OSU's goaltender Lisa Steffes for the early 1-0 lead. The Buckeyes equalized 3:22 later on the power-play, benefiting exclusively from a wide shot that errantly deflected off a UMD defenseman's skate and found the far inside post of the Bulldog goal.
Senior winger Jamie Kenyon exhibited captain-like determination on the Bulldogs second goal of the game, driving from the extended goal line and slotting the puck past the glove-side of Steffes at the 3:51 mark of the third period. Kenyon's 16th goal of the season and second of the series handed UMD a 2-1 advantage, but the Buckeyes answered immediately 16 seconds later courtesy of Ally Tarr.
OSU then took the lead over for the first time all weekend on its second power-play tally of the skate, a redirect by Kari Schmitt on her knees at 6:11. The Bulldogs literally shelled the Buckeyes with 19 shots on goal in the third period, but Steffes managed to get a piece of every one to preserve OSU's first win over UMD this season.
The Bulldogs (14-14-6) outshot the Buckeyes (15-16-5) 34-16, but UMD was awarded just one power-play in the contest, compared to the five OSU was given.
Both teams will battle Sunday for the right to extend their playoff season, with the puck scheduled to drop at AMSOIL at 6:07 p.m.