Bell paces Bulldogs with four points in 8-1 victory over St. Thomas
Minnesota Duluth's defensemen continue to score, finishing with a combined nine points on Friday in the win over the Tommies.
DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth fifth-year senior defenseman Ashton Bell posted two goals and two assists to lead the No. 7-ranked Bulldogs to an 8-1 victory over St. Thomas in WCHA play Friday at Amsoil Arena.
The 2022 Olympic gold medalist from Canada led another strong offensive night for the Bulldogs blue line, which finished with nine points total in the series opener against the Tommies, who return to Amsoil Arena at 3 p.m. Saturday for one final game before the holiday break.
“The focus of ours was to come out hard and push the pace in the first five (minutes), and I think we did a pretty good job of that,” Bell said. “Tomorrow we want to come out even harder and be more consistent with our urgency, just putting the pressure on and emptying the tank since that's our last game of 2022 before the long break.”
Bell — a converted forward — scored her two goals in the second period to give her 23 career goals in 71 games as a defenseman, leaving her one goal short of tying Krista McArthur (24 in 115 games) for second in career goals by a UMD defenseman. Jessica Wong, also a converted forward, holds the program record of 29 in 83 games.
The four-point game for Bell moved her into 10th in career points by a UMD defenseman at 63. Bell’s defensive partner, fellow fifth-year senior Maggie Flaherty, had two assists Friday to move into 11th in career points by a blue liner with 62. Flaherty is also tied with Wong at 48 for career assists by a defenseman.
Flaherty (7) and Bell (9) have combined for 16 goals this season as a defensive duo through just 19 games, topping the 15 total goals of Wong and Brigette Lacquette during the 2012-13 season.
“From the beginning of the season, as soon as Ashton came back, you saw her confidence on the blue line,” UMD senior center Mannon McMahon said. “It leads to a lot of the other defensemen being confident as well. They try things out that Ashton has always been doing, and I think that's led to our whole team (doing so). She just pushes the pace for everyone and she's such a great leader. She makes everyone rise to the level that she's at. So it's been awesome having her back.”
Sixth-year senior forward Naomi Rogge, fifth-year senior forwards Taylor Anderson, Anneke Linser and Gabbie Hughes, McMahon and junior forward Katie Davis also scored goals for the Bulldogs on Friday.
Hughes and McMahon had a goal and two assists each for three-point games while Linser (goal and assist), Flaherty and freshman defenseman Tova Henderson (two assists) had two points each.
Former Bulldog forward Brieja Parent, a junior now at St. Thomas, had the lone goal for the Tommies. She scored off a UMD own-zone turnover with 4:55 left in regulation to spoil the shutout for UMD fifth-year senior goaltender Emma Soderberg, who is one shutout shy of tying fellow Swedish Olympian Kim Martin for third in career shutouts at 16.
Soderberg did move into a tie for sixth with Patricia Sautter-Elsmore for career wins by a goaltender at 44.
Bulldogs coach Maura Crowell said she wasn’t “bummed” that Soderberg missed out on the shutout, but she was “bummed” on how she lost it with UMD turning the puck over late to set up the score.
“We held them to four shots in the first, three in the second and we were hoping for something similar in the third,” said Crowell, whose team gave up seven shots on goal in the third while outshooting St. Thomas 56-14 on Friday. “We can't be casual in the (defensive)-zone. It doesn't matter what the score is, and that's what caught us there.”
Matt’s Three Stars
3. UMD fifth-year senior center Gabbie Hughes — A power play goal in the third and two assists ahead of Saturday’s Hockey Hits Back doubleheader for Sophie’s Squad at Amsoil Arena .
2. UMD senior center Mannon McMahon — She was weaving her way with ease through the purple jerseys of the Tommies all night, finishing with a goal late in the first, plus two assists.
1. UMD fifth-year senior defenseman Ashton Bell — Her two goals and two assists for four points ties a season-high set in the second game of the season, Sept. 25 at Long Island.
St. Thomas 0-0-1—1
Minnesota Duluth 3-3-2—8
1. UMD, Naomi Rogge (Kylie Hanley, Tova Henderson), 4:35
2. UMD, Taylor Anderson (Gabbie Hughes, Anneke Linser), 10:10
3. UMD, Mannon McMahon (Clara Van Wieren, Ashton Bell), 18:06
4. UMD, Bell (Gabby Krause, McMahon), 4:24
5. UMD, Linser (Maggie Flaherty, Hughes), 17:05
6. UMD, Bell, 18:50
7. UMD, Katie Davis (Bell, Hanna Baskin), 6:55
8. UMD, Hughes (McMahon, Flaherty), 14:33
9. UST, Brieja Parent (Emma Larson), 15:05
Saves — Alexa Dobchuk, UST, 36; Maggie Malecha, UST, 12; Emma Soderberg, UMD, 13.
Power play — UST 0-5; UMD 1-5. Penalties — UST 6-12; UMD 6-12.