Minnesota Duluth shook off a pair of gut punches from Minnesota that came in the opening and closing minutes of Saturday’s WCHA series finale to score a 5-4 overtime victory at Amsoil Arena.
The Golden Gophers (1-3 overall, 1-3 WCHA) scored 40 seconds into the game and then tied it via an extra-attacker goal with 31.5 seconds left on the clock to erase a three-goal deficit.
Senior defenseman Maggie Flaherty scored the OT winner 2:09 into the 3-on-3 period for UMD (2-2, 2-2), bouncing a shot from the end line off the shoulder of Gophers fifth-year senior goaltender Lauren Bench and in.
It was the second goal of the season for the blue liner, who had one total goal over each of the previous two seasons.
“Fourth year, I’m feeling confident in my own abilities, just skating it more, having the puck on my stick,” Flaherty said of the larger offensive role she’s taken to start 2021-22. “I want to have the puck on my stick so when the time comes, I’m ready for it.”
Minnesota took the series opener on Friday by scoring 2:36 into the game. The Bulldogs didn’t respond until the second period before giving up an empty-netter in the third period to lose 3-1.
On Saturday, UMD answered the Gophers’ early score with three goals of their own in the first to build a 3-1 advantage going into the second. Senior center Gabbie Hughes scored twice on the power play in the first, getting assists from fifth-year senior Elizabeth Giguere both times, while junior center Mannon McMahon poked a puck past the left post with just 19.8 seconds left in the first to give UMD a 3-1 lead heading into intermission.
While unhappy with the initial moment of deja vu, Bulldogs coach Maura Crowell was pleased with the way her team bounced back in the first.
“Loved it, loved it, loved it,” Crowell said of the response. “We talked a lot about the start. They knew we wanted a better start. It was almost like a repeat in that first shift, but they really put that behind them and went and got it.
“The players showed they got the message last night and came ready to play.”
UMD held a brief 4-1 lead in the second period after Giguere wheeled her way around the net before feeding senior wing Anna Klein for a goal at the top of the Gophers’ crease, but senior center Emily Oden pulled Minnesota back within two goals just 27 seconds later.
Senior wing Abigail Boreen, who assisted on the opening-minute goal by senior center Taylor Heise, scored twice for Minnesota in the final four minutes to send the game into overtime.
Flaherty said a veteran roster flush with upperclassmen — 14 of the 22 players dressed Saturday were juniors or seniors — helped keep the team calm despite the late setback.
“A lot of us had been there, but there are obviously the underclassmen who haven't been in those big situations,” Flaherty said. “We keep them under our wing, make sure they're doing okay and that they got this. They're ready for it, we're ready for it, and we trust them 100%. They trust us.”
Minnesota Duluth 3-1-0-1—5
1. MN, Taylor Heise (Abigail Boreen, Peyton Hemp), 0:40.
6. MN, Emily Oden (Savannah Norcross), 11:31
7. MN, Boreen (Heise, Hemp), 16:22
8. Boreen (Hemp, Emily Brown), 19:19 (ea)
9. UMD, Maggie Flaherty (Clara Van Wieren/McMahon), 2:09
Saves — Lauren Bench, MN, 18; Emma Soderberg, UMD, 31.
Power play — MN 0-1; UMD 2-2. Penalties — MN 3-6, UMD 1-2.