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College women's hockey: UMD spreads offense around in win over St. Cloud State

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Clint Austin / Minnesota Duluth's Kylie Hanley (12) controls the puck near St. Cloud State's Taytum Geier (16) during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. 2 / 5
Clint Austin / Minnesota Duluth's Sydney Brodt (14) controls the puck against St. Cloud State's Hannah Potrykus (23) during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. UMD defeated St. Cloud State 4-2. 3 / 5
Clint Austin / Minnesota Duluth's Naomi Rogge (9) competes for the puck against St. Cloud State's Hannah Bates (24) during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. 4 / 5
Clint Austin / Minnesota Duluth's Anna Klein (19) shoots the puck on goal against St. Cloud State goaltender Emma Polusny (32) during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. UMD defeated St. Cloud State 4-2. 5 / 5

Four players scored goals as Minnesota Duluth, minus its leading scorer, earned a key 4-2 victory over St. Cloud State in WCHA play Friday night before a crowd of 1,270 at Amsoil Arena.

Freshman forward Gabbie Hughes — the team leader in goals (15), assists (14) and points (29) — missed Friday's game with an injury that she suffered late this week in practice. She'll also miss Saturday's 4:07 p.m. rematch at Amsoil Arena, and her status for next week's series against second-ranked Wisconsin is also up in the air.

The Bulldogs (13-12-2 overall, 9-8-2 WCHA) were fine without Hughes, though, in the opener against St. Cloud State (9-21-2, 4-17-0). Seasoned scorers like junior wings Sydney Brodt and Ryleigh Houston scored goals as did those whose names are foreign to the scoresheet, such as freshman center McKenzie Hewett and freshman defenseman Lizi Norton.

"To get four goals without Gabbie in the lineup is perfect," UMD coach Maura Crowell said. "We got scoring from all different areas. I think our players stepped up big time."

Brodt — fifth in goals (7) and points (17) — made it 2-0 late in the first period using the shaft of her stick to deflect a blue-line rip by Norton. Houston — fourth in goals (8) and sixth in points (16) — put the puck in off a Husky on the rush just over eight minutes into the second to make it 4-1.

Hewett sniped the Bulldogs to a 1-0 lead nine minutes into the game, keeping the puck to herself on a 3-on-2 rush to score just her second goal and sixth point of the season.

Norton, after gaining an assist on Brodt's goal in the first, gained her third goal and 10th point of her rookie campaign by fighting through a pair of blocks. Her third shot was the charm, beating Huskies sophomore goaltender Emma Polusny low to make it 3-nil less than three minutes into the second.

Norton, who plays a lot of minutes alongside junior co-captain Jalyn Elmes as UMD's top defensive pairing, said her confidence is sky high after a night like Friday, which was her third multipoint game of the season but first since Oct. 19 against Bemidji State.

"The first one I was at the top of the blue line and I saw an opening and luckily hit Syd's stick. I wasn't really aiming for it, but she got it," Norton said. "(On the second) I was just trying to get my own rebound a couple of times, especially with playing against such a good goalie."

Friday's game pitted a pair of U.S. Women's National Team goaltenders against each other.

UMD junior Maddie Rooney, a 2018 Olympic gold medalist, finished with 21 saves, including a pair against a 2-on-1 Huskies rush with 8 1/2 minutes to go in regulation.

Polusny, who was called up to play alongside Rooney at the 2018 Four Nations Cup in November, finished with 42 saves, stopping all 17 shots she faced in the third period against a Bulldogs team that came at her in waves in hopes of going back up by three.

Polusny backstopped the Huskies to a 3-2 upset win over UMD in St. Cloud in October, stopping 48 shots. That night UMD didn't get to Polusny early, only scoring on a pair of power-play goals in the second period.

This time UMD jumped on Polusny early, which was key, because the Huskies' goalie seemed to become more and more confident as the game went on, Brodt said.

"We had a good start, which always helps us," Brodt said. "We gain confidence and demoralize the other team a little bit when we get those goals right away. That was a big thing for us tonight."

With the win, fourth-place UMD moved within two points of third-place Ohio State in the WCHA standings after the Buckeyes — with just three wins in their last nine games — fell at home to Bemidji State.

UMD has five games remaining in the regular season while the Buckeyes have three.

St. Cloud State 0-2-0—2

Minn. Duluth 2-2-0—4

First period — 1. UMD, McKenzie Hewett 2 (Kailee Skinner, Maggie Flaherty), 9:03; 2. UMD, Sydney Brodt 7 (Lizi Norton, Naomi Rogge), 16:03.

Second period — 3. UMD, Norton 3 (Kylie Hanley, Rogge), 2:42; 4. SCSU, Jenniina Nylund 7 (Kayla Friesen, Hannah Potrykus), 6:65 (pp); 5. UMD, Ryleigh Houston 4, 8:16; 6. SCSU, Julia Tylke 10 (Emma Bigham), 19:22.

Third period — No scoring.

Saves — Emma Polusny, SCSU, 9-17-17—42; Maddie Rooney, UMD, 9-3-9—21.

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

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