Minnesota Duluth senior goaltender Maddie Rooney didn’t just break the program’s career saves record a week ago at Amsoil Arena.
The Olympic gold medalist, who now has 3,030 career saves, did it in style by stopping 59 of the 61 shots she faced in the sweep of Bemidji State, picking up her 12th career shutout with 30 saves on Friday to break the record of 2,998 set by Kayla Black from 2012-16.
It’s a continuation of what has been a strong start to 2020 for Rooney, who in four games — three against the Beavers — has posted a .967 save percentage and 0.98 goals against average, including two shutouts.
“I had no idea the record was coming. When they announced it over the scoreboard, I was kind of in shock. It’s super special to now hold that record,” said Rooney, who split time with Black in net during the 2015-16 season. “I’m displaying more confidence in myself, which is definitely leading me to play better out there, and hopefully giving my teammates the best chance to win.”
Rooney’s .932 save percentage and 1.94 GAA overall this season in 21 starts has her neck-and-neck atop the WCHA’s goaltending ranks with Minnesota senior Sydney Scobee, who has posted a .939 save percentage and 1.49 GAA in 24 starts.
Junior Emma Polusny, whose St. Cloud State squad hosts UMD at 6:07 p.m. Friday and 2:07 p.m. on Saturday, is third in save percentage at .918, but with just four wins on the season.
The Huskies — who were swept in Duluth 3-2 and 6-0 in November — earned their first WCHA victory of the season a week ago at Minnesota State-Mankato. UMD coach Maura Crowell said that win will give the Huskies a boost going into this weekend’s series.
“We should go down there and bring the confidence and physicality and the same type of game plan that we had here against Bemidji,” Crowell said. “We need to take care of business. All these points are really important at this stage of the game. St. Cloud is coming off their first conference win Saturday so we need to be ready to go.”
Via the two wins last weekend at Amsoil Arena, the Bulldogs pulled into a tie with Bemidji State for fourth place in the WCHA, but UMD has played two fewer conference games than the Beavers.
The Bulldogs also have two games in hand on the team sitting 10 points ahead of them in third, Ohio State.
To hold off the Beavers for a home best-of-three WCHA quarterfinal series and to possibly catch the Buckeyes, the Bulldogs will need a lot more than just a red-hot Rooney over their final 10 games — which includes series with OSU, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
UMD is going to need to put up some goals and, so far in 2020, they’re doing so. The Bulldogs put up 10 in their three wins over a typically-stingy Bemidji State squad.
Sophomore forward Gabbie Hughes finished with a goal and three assists last weekend to earn WCHA Forward of the Week honors. She’s riding a five-game point streak that includes three goals and five assists.
Junior defenseman Ashton Bell also had four points last weekend with two goals and two assists. Her nine goals this season are the most by a Bulldogs defenseman since Jessica Wong put up 11 as a junior in 2011-12.
Bell, who was a forward her first two seasons at UMD, is now two goals and a point shy of her collegiate-highs, having already recorded a collegiate-high 13 assists this season.
The stops, the goals and, most importantly, the wins have provided the Bulldogs a big boost to start the new year.
“Those wins were huge and moving forward, we want to keep focusing on getting those wins because we need to win every game now to set us up for the playoffs,” Bell said. “It was definitely a huge confidence booster, and getting that many goals was huge.”