Offense has been a struggle at times for the Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey team this season.
The Bulldogs have yet to be shut out this season, but have been held to one or two goals in 14 of 18 regular-season games.
Last weekend’s 4-3 overtime loss to Minnesota and 5-3 win over Minnesota State-Mankato at the Minnesota Cup in Minneapolis were the exception as the Bulldogs tied a season high of eight goals in a weekend.
Assistant coach Laura Bellamy said this week she hopes that exception becomes the rule as the Bulldogs return to WCHA play for a pair of games at Bemidji State at 3:07 p.m. Friday and 1:07 p.m. Saturday.
“We are going to continue to see them get better and better,” said Bellamy, who is filling in as head coach while Maura Crowell leads Team USA at the Under-18 Women’s World Championship. “Our players came back from the break refreshed. They were ready to go. They had clear minds and that’s when you are going to see the best offense.”
The only other time UMD posted eight goals in a weekend was against the Beavers on Oct. 19-20 in Duluth. UMD, which is averaging 2.33 goals per game this year, recorded a 6-1 win in the Friday game before a tight 2-0 win the next night.
The two Minnesota Cup contests were a more consistent effort with five players finding the scoresheet, including two - freshmen McKenzie Hewett and Kailee Skinner - for the first time in their collegiate careers. Freshman Gabbie Hughes scored three goals on the weekend.
As encouraging as that all is, what has Bellamy optimistic about UMD’s scoring abilities moving forward is when the goals came and the situations. Six of the eight goals came in the third period and five came when UMD was trailing.
The Bulldogs came from behind both days, tying Minnesota with a pair of goals in the third to force overtime on Friday and rallying past the Mavericks on Saturday after being down two goals.
“Our kids are definitely excited to put the puck away against two good teams,” Bellamy said. “That was a really good thing for us, a positive, and to be able to do it (when trailing). To be able to score is great, but to be able to do it when we were down was even better.”
- Crowell and Team USA secured a bye and spot in the semifinals of the Under-18 Women’s World Championship with a 2-0 victory over Sweden on Wednesday in Obihiro, Japan. Lacey Eden and Katy Knoll scored for the U.S., which finished 3-0 in preliminary-round play. American goaltender Skylar Vetter made 17 saves for her first shutout of the tournament.
Canada also received a bye into Saturday’s semifinals. Sweden takes on Finland and Russia faces Sweden today’s playoffs. The bronze- and gold-medal games are scheduled for Sunday.
UMD (7-9-2) AT BEMIDJI STATE (7-13-1)
What: WCHA series
When: 3:07 p.m. Friday/1:07 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sanford Center, Bemidji
Internet: flohockey.tv (video)