ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

College women's hockey: UMD's next stop is the postseason

The wait is over for Minnesota Duluth. The playoffs are next. UMD dispatched St. Cloud State with a workmanlike 3-2 victory Sunday at the DECC, and the Bulldogs are primed for a postseason run after a stellar 32-game regular season. After clinchi...

The wait is over for Minnesota Duluth. The playoffs are next.

UMD dispatched St. Cloud State with a workmanlike 3-2 victory Sunday at the DECC, and the Bulldogs are primed for a postseason run after a stellar 32-game regular season.

After clinching the Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season championship Saturday with a 5-1 win over the Huskies, the second-ranked Bulldogs weren't caught looking ahead to the playoffs.

"The season is far from over," senior captain Karine Demeule said. "The best part is coming."

The Bulldogs will play Bemidji State in a best-of-three, first-round WCHA playoff series at 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the DECC. If necessary, a third game will take place at 7:07 p.m. next Sunday.

ADVERTISEMENT

If the Bulldogs beat the Beavers, UMD will host the WCHA Final Face-Off on March 8-9.

The Bulldogs (27-4-1, 24-4 WCHA) went undefeated against five of the seven league teams. The Bulldogs were 20-0 against St. Cloud State, Ohio State, Minnesota State-Mankato, North Dakota and Bemidji State. Against second-place Minnesota and third-place Wisconsin, UMD was 4-4.

To close the season, the Bulldogs won 19 of their past 20, a span that included a 16-game winning streak.

UMD went 11-1 in 2008 with two members of its first line out for extended periods of time. Sophomore captain Saara Tuominen missed the first 10 games of 2008 with a torn knee ligament. Freshman winger Iya Gavrilova has missed the past six and is under an NCAA eligibility investigation.

In their extended absences, the second line of Emmanuelle Blais, Haley Irwin and Laura Fridfinnson has stepped up.

Irwin, a freshman center, leads the team with 45 points. Wingers Blais and Fridfinnson have contributed a combined 50 points.

On Sunday, Elin Holmlov, the first line's mainstay, scored two first-period goals, both assisted by Tuominen.

At 1:21, Tuominen passed to an open Holmlov on the left side for a short-handed goal. At 10:14, Tuominen found Holmlov for a power-play score.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We just have a connection, kind of," said Tuominen, who returned to full practice one week ago. "We have been, like, on the same line for almost two years, so it wasn't too hard to come back. We are supporting each other all the time."

The short-handed goal was the fourth that St. Cloud State has given up in its past three games. The Huskies made up for the miscue with a goal on the same power play at 1:55.

Irwin put UMD up 3-1 with a goal in the last minute of the first period.

There was no scoring in the second period and first half of the third period until Felicia Nelson's slap shot from the top of the right circle at 11:31 brought St. Cloud State to within a goal.

After the game, WCHA commissioner Sara Martin presented UMD with the WCHA regular-season trophy and the school honored its senior, Demeule, and Samantha Hough, whose career was cut short because of an injury.

"It is exciting because I'm a senior and it's the first time I've won the WCHA [regular-] season [title]," Demeule said. "So it's really exciting for me. It's great that we are hosting the WCHA tournament two weeks from now. It makes everything even more exciting because we really want to do well here."

St. Cloud State 1-0-1--2

Minnesota Duluth 3-0-0-- 3

ADVERTISEMENT

First period -- 1. UMD, Elin Holmlov (Saara Tuominen) 1:21 (sh). 2. SCSU, Brittni Kuyper (Meaghan Pezon, Megan McCarthy) 1:55 (pp). 3. UMD Holmlov (Tuominen, Heidi Pelttari 10:14 (pp). 4. UMD, Haley Irwin (Laura Fridfinnson, Tuominen) 19:26. Penalties -- Kim Martin, UMD, (tripping) :18. Marie-Michel Lemieux, SCSU, (interference) 9"59. Karine Demeule, UMD, (interference) 11:09. Laura Fast, SCSU, (slashing)11:55. Stacey Dey, SCSU, (tripping) 13:08.

Second period -- no scoring. Penalties -- Felicia Nelson, SCSU, (slashing) 12:48. Karine Demeule, UMD, (holding) 15:45. Brittni Kuyper, SCSU, (holding) 15:45. Tuominen, UMD, (tripping) 18:32.

Third period -- 5. SCSU, Felicia Nelson (Danielle Hirsch, Holly Roberts) 11:31 (pp). Penalties -- Karine Demeule, UMD (hooking) 11:01. Jaime Rasmussen, UMD, (roughing) 14:08. Haley Irwin, UMD, (cross checking) 15:28. Marie-Michel Lemieux (roughing) 15:28. Saara Tuominen, UMD, (slashing) 18:05.

Shots on goal -- UMD 32, W 24. Goalies -- Kim Martin, UMD, 24 shots, 22 saves. Ashley Nixon, SCSU, 32 shots, 29 saves.

Power Plays -- UMD 1-for-4, SCSU 2-for-6. Referee -- Chris Perrault. Linesmen -- Ray Doocy, Tina Simonson. A -- 664.

ANDY GREDER covers UMD women's hockey for the News Tribune. He can be reached at (218) 723-5315 or by e-mail at agreder@duluthnews.com .

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.