Bulldogs shut out Huskies

It wasn't the shutout. Sure, it's statistical data that lends support. But for Minnesota Duluth senior goalie Riitta Schaublin, it was more about a rush of confidence -- a feeling that told her the slump has passed. Finally.

It wasn't the shutout. Sure, it's statistical data that lends support. But for Minnesota Duluth senior goalie Riitta Schaublin, it was more about a rush of confidence -- a feeling that told her the slump has passed. Finally.

And she wasn't the only exhaling with relief.

"Riitta's back, Riitta's back," UMD coach Shannon Miller said after Sunday's game.

Schaublin had 17 saves as the ninth-ranked Bulldogs topped St. Cloud State 1-0 in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game in front of 569 fans at the DECC. It was UMD's first series sweep since Oct. 27-28 wins over the Huskies at the National Hockey Center.

With the win, the Bulldogs (13-7-2, 12-5-1 WCHA) are tied with Minnesota at No. 2 in the league standings.


Schaublin's shaky stretch began in mid-November. She was coming off a strong performance against the Gophers where, despite a 1-0 loss, she made 28 saves -- many while on the penalty kill -- and seemed comfortable, adept and aggressive about playing the puck.

Then came the spiral.

The Bulldogs followed the Gophers series with a tie against Minnesota State-Mankato. It was the first time since her freshman year that Schaublin had allowed more than four goals. The gaffe was unprecedented. And it eventually became contagious and spread over the rest of the first half of the season. It was an untimely falter that occurred during a stretch where Swedish phenom Kim Martin, who had been splitting time in goal, has been sideline with a leg injury.

Schaublin had suffered a bad game or a bad series in the past. But she had never seen this kind of a rut.

"I had an amazing game against the Gophers. I don't know what happened. ... I finally had a slump," Schaublin said Sunday. "It was a big one."

Once, her freshman year, she had something that resembled a slump, but now recognizes it as just a bad game. Then she shaved her head and the slump ended. But she was a different player then, with a totally different personality. The two incidents have nothing in common, Schaublin said.

Over break Schaublin gave little thought to the bad run. However, during the ugly course, she woke most days and immediately wondered if it had passed.

She noticed it waning against Niagara. When the Bulldogs topped St. Cloud State 4-2 in Saturday's game, it felt a little more gone. Miller wasn't ready for the going-away party yet Saturday. She wanted further proof that the slump had been extinguished. That came Sunday.


"She's playing well," Miller said. "Her confidence is back."

Schaublin didn't face a ton of shots. But she saw some quality opportunities and got the chance to roam out and play long passes to her teammates at center ice. And one of the Huskies' best scoring chances clanked off the pipe in the third period. Schaublin, who has always been her harshest critic, noted she had one mistake in the game. She misplayed a puck and didn't clear the zone. But that was the only fault she found in 60 minutes. Thus adding to the confidence and subtracting from the slump.

Meanwhile, an ice-length away, St. Cloud State's Kendell Newell was having a decent game of her own. The junior -- the most statistically successful faction of a three-way goalie rotation -- allowed one goal on 35 shots. UMD senior forward Michaela Lanzl, who had been stifled 1-on-1 earlier in the game, scored on an off-balance shot after the puck bounced off Newell and landed near the crease at 15:12 of the third period. It was her second goal of the weekend.

Lanzl took a skate to the face during the celebration.

"We are just excited and happy," she said. "This weekend was so important for us and we did it and it gave us a lot of energy and showed the character of the team."

For the Huskies, a relatively young but solid and persistent team, it was another in a long line of close calls. St. Cloud State has been able to skate with some of the top teams in the country and push a game to overtime, a tie or a one-goal deficit.

"Just put the puck in the net," Newell said. "It is a 2- to 3-feet difference. We'd be right there, but we need to figure out what it is and make it click."

The Bulldogs travel play Bemidji State at 7:07 p.m. Saturday, 2:07 p.m. Sunday at the John Glas Fieldhouse. Their next home series is Feb. 2-3 against WCHA front runner Wisconsin.


St. Cloud State 0 0 0--0

Minnesota Duluth 0 0 1--1

First period--No scoring. Penalties--Stacy Dey, SCSU (elbowing), 10:24.

Second period--No scoring. Penalties--Jessica Hawkins, UMD (checking), 12:34; Holly Roberts, SCSU (tripping), 17:45; Saara Tuominen, UMD (obstruction holding), 18:52.

Third period--1. Michaela Lanzl 5 (Jaime Rasmussen, Noemie Marin), 15:12. Penalties--Suvi Vacker, UMD (obstruction interference), 15:35.

Shots on goal--SCSU 5-5-7--17, UMD 8-16-11--35.

Goalies--Kendall Newell, SCSU (35 shots, 34 saves), Riitta Schaublin, UMD (17 shots, 17 saves).

Power plays--SCSU 0-of-4, UMD 0-of-3.


Referee--Robert Ludwig. Assistant referees--Ray Doocy, Ron Storey. A--569.

Christa Lawler is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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