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Minus Hughes, Bulldogs finish off road sweep of St. Cloud State

Fifth-year senior defenseman Maggie Flaherty scored two goals and freshman goaltender Hailey MacLeod made 18 saves in Minnesota Duluth's 5-1 victory over the Huskies.

Maggie Flaherty skates with the puck
Minnesota Duluth defenseman Maggie Flaherty (29) skates with the puck against Minnesota State on Saturday, Jan. 29 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

ST. CLOUD — Minnesota Duluth was without its leading scorer, fifth-year senior center Gabbie Hughes, on Saturday in the series finale at St. Cloud State, but that didn't stop the Bulldogs from producing on the scoresheet.

UMD got two goals from fifth-year senior defenseman Maggie Flaherty while sixth-year senior forward Naomi Rogge picked up her 100th career point as the Bulldogs rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Huskies to sweep the WCHA series at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

"What a game. I thought we played really, really well from start to finish," UMD coach Maura Crowell said. "Honestly, nice to find the back of the net as much as we did today. I thought there were so many good hustle plays that resulted in in good goals."

Flaherty scored the first and last goals of the game, giving UMD a 1-0 lead late in the first period and adding an empty-netter with under four minutes to play in the third. Rogge picked up her 100th point less than two minutes into the second period, when senior center Mannon McMahon also scored off a feed from junior wing Clara Van Wieren to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead going into the third.

"The Clara to Mannon one in the second, I said that was probably one of my favorites that we scored all year," Crowell said. "That's a 'Bulldog Hockey' goal right there from start to finish."

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Bulldogs fifth-year senior captain Ashton Bell scored 36 seconds into the third period. Originally a forward when she arrived at UMD, the gold medal-winning Olympic defenseman for Canada at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing took Hughes spot as the first line center on Saturday with Hughes out due to an upper body injury suffered Friday in the first period.

Crowell didn't have a timeline Saturday night after the game on how long Hughes would be out, just saying Hughes was day-to-day at this point. Thankfully the Bulldogs have "such a great player" that can step in for Hughes, Crowell said.

"(Bell) played a little bit of center back in the day," Crowell said. "With Gabby out, you need another strong top-line center. We felt really good about (Bell's) ability to get in there and execute. It also allowed us to keep our other forward lines intact so they could build chemistry. That's really important to us, too."

UMD fifth-year senior goaltender Emma Soderberg, the Olympian from Sweden, took Friday night off, opening the door for freshman Hailey MacLeod to make her first collegiate start after getting in two games earlier this season. MacLeod made 18 saves on 19 shots, having her shutout spoiled by SCSU sophomore defender Grace Wolfe with 35.5 seconds left in the game.

Huskies junior goaltender Sanni Ahola got the start on Saturday for the Huskies after Jojo Chobak, the former UMD goalie who transfered to SCSU this season, made 23 saves in a 2-0 loss Friday. Ahola finished with 20 saves for the Huskies on Saturday.

The Bulldogs return home next weekend for a nonconference series with Harvard, scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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