Duluth tops Gophers in semis of NCAA women's hockey tourneyMinnesota Sports
- No. 2-ranked Minnesota-Duluth women's hockey team advanced to a sixth NCAA Division I championship game by eliminating No. 3 Minnesota 3-2 before a crowd of 2,200 spectators. The last two wins over the Gophers have come in Minnesota’s home rink, Ridder Arena.
MINNEAPOLIS — No. 2-ranked Minnesota-Duluth women's hockey team advanced to a sixth NCAA Division I championship game by eliminating No. 3 Minnesota 3-2 before a crowd of 2,200 spectators. The last two wins over the Gophers have come in Minnesota’s home rink, Ridder Arena.
The Bulldogs (30-8-2) advance to face No. 4 Cornell University (21-8-6) in Sunday’s noon title game. UMD has won four previous titles, the most recent in 2008 at the DECC. Cornell, in the NCAA tournament for a first time, stopped No. 1 Mercyhurst College 3-2 in overtime in Saturday’s earlier semifinal.
In 39 games this season, UMD scored six more goals than Minnesota; while Minnesota allowed seven fewer than UMD. They were that even.
Emanuelle Blais had three points in the game and has 64 in 40 games, while linemate Laura Fridfinnson had a goal and two assists, and has 54 points in 38 games. They were centered by senior captain Saara Tuominen.
The semifinal matched Olympic goalies — Minnesota freshman Noora Raty, who played for Finland in the 2010 Winter Games, and UMD freshman Jennifer Harss, who played for Germany in 2006. Harss was solid with 28 saves as Minnesota led in shots on goal 29-24.
Minnesota had the best of the first period, leading 13-7 in shots, but UMD had the only goal. Blais did some solid forechecking and Fridfinnson took over for a wraparound goal 5:55 into the game.
Two Blais second-period goals put the Bulldogs up 3-1. She took an on-target Fridfinnson pass and just redirected the puck into an open left side of the net with 7:05 left. Minnesota sophomore center Sarah Erickson of Roseau, Minn., then connected on a right wing breakaway with 2:30 left in the second period to get within 2-1.
But Blais restored a two-goal advantage with 44.7 seconds remaining in the period on a sniper’s goal for her 31st of the season and 72nd of her career. She took a Fridfinnson feed and powered a shot from the left circle past Raty, who entered the game with the best Division I save percentage (.951) and second-best goals-against average (1.27). Harss came into the game with the most saves in Division I (1,062).
After Raty was pulled with 1:17 left in the game, West, Minnesota’s scoring leader, got her 23rd goal with 54.3 seconds to play. UMD called a timeout at that point and held on at the end.