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Thumbs up, thumbs down, three stars: UMD women's top line, Chippewa Falls community put on show to open season

A look back at last weekend’s Bulldogs hockey action, with the thumbs up, thumbs down and three stars for News Tribune and The Rink Live UMD hockey reporter Matt Wellens.

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The Minnesota Duluth bench watches the third period of play against Wisconsin on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, at the Chippewa Area Ice Arena in Chippewa Falls. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The 2021-22 Bulldogs hockey season got underway over the weekend with the Minnesota Duluth women’s team splitting a WCHA series with Minnesota State in Mankato while the UMD men topped Wisconsin in an exhibition in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

The UMD women posted a dominating 7-0 victory over the Mavericks on Friday to open the season, before getting upset 4-2 in the series finale . The Bulldogs men held off a late charge by the Badgers to win 4-2 on Sunday before a packed little rink in Chippewa Falls.

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Here’s a look back at last weekend’s Bulldogs hockey action, with the thumbs up, thumbs down and three stars for News Tribune and The Rink Live UMD hockey reporter Matt Wellens.

Thumbs up

UMD women’s top line can score

The Bulldogs’ big three at forward — seniors Anna Klein, Gabbie Hughes and Elizabeth Giguere — got off to a bit of a slow start Friday night in Mankato playing their first game together, with passes missing the mark. Their timing was just a tad off.

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But once they started connecting, the line was a force to be reckoned with. Klein, Hughes and Giguere combined for four goals and eight assists on the weekend. All three players had three points in Friday’s rout, then scored the late goal Saturday that got the team back in the game against the Mavericks.

“The passing and things like that, it took a little while to get it going, but when they hit — some really pretty goals out of that group,” Bulldogs coach Maura Crowell said Friday. “And it's not just pretty goals that they do well. The work ethic and little habits that they show sets the tone for the team and that's the way we want to play. So great to see it from them, as always.”

Thumbs down

Mavericks pressure ‘disrupted’ Bulldogs

One of the keys to the Bulldogs success on Friday night in Mankato was puck possession. UMD outshot the Mavericks 41-14 in large part because the puck never left the Mavs’ zone, and when it did, the wasn’t gone long. UMD’s defensemen did a tremendous job at the offensive blue line making sure pucks stayed in the zone.

Crowell said her defensemen made smart decisions, controlled the play in the neutral zone and got involved in the offense when they needed to.

On Saturday, no one was beating the Mavericks to pucks anywhere on the ice. UMD didn’t handle the puck pressure well, and possession was much more balanced, with the shot margin reduced to 26-21 UMD.

“I felt like they were hungry, they were really hungry,” Crowell said Saturday. “They just wanted it more, is how it how it looked. I know that's not the case, but they were quick to pucks, hungry for them. They did a good job puck protecting. We couldn't really get the puck and have possession, which is a big part of our game. They disrupted us quite a bit, so we were on our heels, it felt like, for most of that game.”

Thumbs up

Chippewa Falls puts on one heck of an event

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Minnesota Duluth fans Rolf Flaig and his daughter Erin Flaig, both of Duluth, cheer for the Bulldogs as they compete against the Badgers on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, at the Chippewa Area Ice Arena in Chippewa Falls. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

I didn’t know what to expect Sunday morning as News Tribune photographer Clint Austin and I made our way to Chippewa Falls for the exhibition between the Bulldogs and Badgers on Sunday. What we encountered blew us away.

We arrived two hours prior to puck drop to a packed parking lot outside a small yellow and brown ice rink that sits on the outskirts of town. Fans were tailgating, brats were sizzling and the classic rock was blaring.

“It was great, it was nice to play in front of fans,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said. “It was great to see how excited the community was and we’re thankful we got it worked out with Wisconsin to play.”

That yellow and brown barn was fun, and one of the cleanest and brightest hockey rinks I’ve ever watched a game in. The place was immaculate, including the glass. I had no issues grabbing photos and video with my iPhone from my rinkside “press box” table. That seat turned out to be a treat, as it has been a long time since this reporter watched a hockey game along the glass.

Overall, the folks from the volunteer-run Chippewa Area Ice Arena and Chippewa Youth Hockey Association did an absolutely phenomenal job putting on an event that only came together a month ago. Local sponsors covered the costs, and all the proceeds went to the CYHA Kids on Ice Endowment Fund , which makes sure anyone in the area that wants to play hockey, can play hockey.

I’d gladly travel to Chippewa Falls again to cover an NCAA Division I hockey game, and I’d have no reservations, unlike a few dark, dingy, unorganized NCAA regionals coming up out East.

“It was great, Wisconsin was great,” UMD senior defenseman Hunter Lellig said. “It's fun to have fans back in the building again, too, especially in a small barn like this. It was awesome.”

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Three stars

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Minnesota Duluth forward Tanner Laderoute (13) puts the puck on goal against Wisconsin goaltender Cameron Rowe (31) on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, at the Chippewa Area Ice Arena in Chippewa Falls. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

3. UMD senior wing Tanner Laderoute — Laderoute, playing along with senior captain Noah Cates on the opposite wing and fifth-year senior transfer Casey Gilling in the middle, looked like a former linemate of his from past seasons, Cole Koepke, the way he was moving the puck out there. Laderoute had two assists Sunday, setting up Lelling and Gilling for goals.

“Lads was just making plays all over the ice,” Lellig said. “It's great, a lot like Koeps. We’re excited for this year.”

2. UMD senior wing Naomi Rogge — Rogge, two seasons removed from a knee injury, jump started the offense on Friday, scoring two of the team’s first three goals. She finished with two goals and two assists Friday and five points total on the weekend.

“She just plays with so much confidence,” Crowell said Friday. “Just a year off of that injury, she's a lot more sure of herself and back to the way she wants to be playing. It's great to see.”

1. UMD senior wing Elizabeth Giguere — The fifth-year transfer out of Clarkson tallied four points in her first series with UMD. She had three assists on Friday and then scored her first goal as a Bulldog late in Saturday’s game as UMD tried to erase a two-goal deficit to start the third. That first goal for her as a Bulldog on Saturday was the 100th of her career. She now has 237 points in her career, putting her tied for 15th all-time in the NCAA, based on the most recent record book published by the NCAA .

Up next

The UMD women host WCHA rival Minnesota in their first home series of 2021-22 at Amsoil Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:01 p.m. Friday and 3:01 p.m. Saturday.

The Bulldogs men’s travel to Bemidji State for a nonconference game at 7:07 p.m. Friday to open their regular season before returning home for their first game of 2021-22 at Amsoil Arena to play the Beavers at 7:07 p.m. Saturday as part of a men’s and women’s doubleheader.

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