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Friday, February 29, 2008

UMDBulldogs.com Bemidji State WCHA Playoff Preview

THE SERIES: The Bulldogs (27-4-1) are 37-0-1 all-time against the Beavers, including 4-0 in outings this season. Bemidji State remains the only WCHA opponent UMD has never conceded a setback to.

The Maroon and Gold outscored the Beavers this season 16-2, while outshooting BSU 177 to 62 in four skates. UMD held Bemidji State to just seven shots in its last encounter in Bemidji, Minn. on Jan. 19, which resulted in a 6-1 Bulldog win.

BSU posted its most impressive effort against UMD on Oct. 14 at the the DECC, falling only 1-0 to the usually high-octane offensive of the Bulldogs. Beaver netminder Emily Brookshaw, a 2005-06 U-22 U.S. National Women’s Festival Team member, faced 35 shots in the contest, keeping 34 of them out of the net.

The two squads have met only one other time in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs. The Bulldogs hosted BSU at the DECC back on March 3, 2006, and upended the Beavers 7-2. UMD returned the following night to hand BSU a 3-0 setback on March 4, 2006.

Click on the blog title to view the entire preview, in .PDF format!

My prediction is a relatively easy sweep, though I'm glad to be able to see BSU goaltender Emily Brookshaw play this weekend.

Monday, February 25, 2008

News Tribune UMD Sweeps SCSU/Postseason Preview

Next stop is postseason for UMD women's hockey team
Andy Greder Duluth News Tribune
Published Monday, February 25, 2008

The wait is over for Minnesota Duluth. The playoffs are next.

UMD dispatched St. Cloud State with a workmanlike 3-2 victory Sunday at the DECC, and the Bulldogs are primed for a postseason run after a stellar 32-game regular season.

After clinching the Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season championship Saturday with a 5-1 win over the Huskies, the second-ranked Bulldogs weren’t caught looking ahead to the playoffs.

“The season is far from over,” senior captain Karine Demeule said. “The best part is coming.”

The Bulldogs will play Bemidji State in a best-of-three, first-round WCHA playoff series at 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the DECC. If necessary, a third game will take place at 7:07 p.m. next Sunday.

If the Bulldogs beat the Beavers, UMD will host the WCHA Final Face-Off on March 8-9.

The Bulldogs (27-4-1, 24-4 WCHA) went undefeated against five of the seven league teams. The Bulldogs were 20-0 against St. Cloud State, Ohio State, Minnesota State-Mankato, North Dakota and Bemidji State. Against second-place Minnesota and third-place Wisconsin, UMD was 4-4.

To close the season, the Bulldogs won 19 of their past 20, a span that included a16-game winning streak.

UMD went 11-1 in 2008 with two members of its first line out for extended periods of time. Sophomore captain Saara Tuominen missed the first 10 games of 2008 with a torn knee ligament. Freshman winger Iya Gavrilova has missed the past six and is under an NCAA eligibility investigation.

In their extended absences, the second line of Emmanuelle Blais, Haley Irwin and Laura Fridfinnson has stepped up.

Irwin, a freshman center, leads the team with 45 points. Wingers Blais and Fridfinnson have contributed a combined 50 points.

On Sunday, Elin Holmlov, the first line’s mainstay, scored two first-period goals, both assisted by Tuominen.

At 1:21, Tuominen passed to an open Holmlov on the left side for a short-handed goal. At 10:14, Tuominen found Holmlov for a power-play score.

“We just have a connection, kind of,” said Tuominen, who returned to full practice one week ago. “We have been, like, on the same line for almost two years, so it wasn’t too hard to come back. We are supporting each other all the time.”

The short-handed goal was the fourth that St. Cloud State has given up in its past three games. The Huskies made up for the miscue with a goal on the same power play at 1:55.

Irwin put UMD up 3-1 with a goal in the last minute of the first period.

There was no scoring in the second period and first half of the third period until Felicia Nelson’s slap shot from the top of the right circle at 11:31 brought St. Cloud State to within a goal.

After the game, WCHA commissioner Sara Martin presented UMD with the WCHA regular-season trophy and the school honored its senior, Demeule, and Samantha Hough, whose career was cut short because of an injury.

“It is exciting because I’m a senior and it’s the first time I’ve won the WCHA [regular-] season [title],” Demeule said. “So it’s really exciting for me. It’s great that we are hosting the WCHA tournament two weeks from now. It makes everything even more exciting because we really want to do well here.”

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dogs defeat St. Cloud, Win WCHA Regular Season Title

College women's hockey: UMD defeats St. Cloud State
Kevin Pates Duluth News Tribune
Published Saturday, February 23, 2008

Center Haley Irwin had two goals and linemate Laura Fridfinnson added a goal and an assist Saturday afternoon as Minnesota Duluth defeated St. Cloud State 5-1 in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association women's game at the DECC.

The No. 2-ranked Bulldogs (26-5-1 overall, 23-4 WCHA) clinched the league's regular-season championship. No. 13 St. Cloud State (16-12-5, 11-12-4) is fourth in the league.

Irwin and defender Myriam Trepanier scored goals 11 seconds apart early in the second period for a 4-1 lead. Fridfinnson had the only goal of the third period at 2:57.

The Bulldogs were up 2-0 after one period as Irwin scored a short-handed goal 2:13 into the game and Elin Holmlov added a goal with 8:46 left in the first period.

Irwin finished off a flurry in front of the St. Cloud State net at 3:23 of the second period for her 18th goal of the season and Trepanier followed at 3:34. The UMD women's record for fastest two goals is six seconds.

St. Cloud State winger Felicia Nelson broke goalie Kim Martin's shutout bid with 2:39 left in the second period.

The Bulldogs are 17-1 against No. 13 St. Cloud State at the DECC and 19-2 in Duluth overall versus the Huskies.

Each team had six shots in the first period. Martin was in goal for UMD and Kendall Newell for St. Cloud State. UMD led in shots 17-11 after two periods and 27-15 for the game.

Yes, I know there's an investigation ongoing but until otherwise informed, UMD is WCHA Regular Season CHAMPION!

Friday, February 22, 2008

SCSU Series Preview

THE SERIES: UMD holds a 30-6-1 all-time lead over the Huskies, including a 16-1 tab at the DECC (and 18-2 overall in Duluth). The Huskies one and only win at the DECC, (they beat the Bulldogs at Mars Lakeview Arena last year on Feb. 24, 2006 3-1 in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs) was Feb. 24, 2002, when St. Cloud State handed UMD a 3-0 defeat on its home ice.

The Bulldogs and Huskies (16-11-5) opened the 2007-08 season in St. Cloud to the Maroon and Gold's favor, posting two shutouts to sweep its first WCHA team of the season. UMD picked up a 3-0 victory on Oct. 5th, and then blanked St. Cloud State on Oct. 6th by a tally of 8-0. Nine Bulldogs registered a point in the series, with sophomore Saara Tuominen notching two goals and three assists. Goaltender Kim Martin, who was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week following her stellar performance in St. Cloud, made 61 saves in 119:27 minutes of action.

LAST WEEKEND: UMD (25-4-1, 22-4-0) was idle over the weekend.

THE COACHES: Shannon Miller, who currently is the only coach in the WCHA to have racked-up 225 wins and has never won fewer than 20 games in a season, is in her ninth season behind the Bulldog bench.

As the only head coach UMD has ever employed, Miller has amassed an impressive overall record of 225-61-25 and has led the Bulldogs to six NCAA playoff appearances and three straight NCAA Championship titles (2001, 2002 and 2003). She has led UMD into four NCAA Frozen Four berths, including the 2007 NCAA Championship game. No other hockey program in the country has won three consecutive NCAA titles.

For her efforts, Miller was named the 2000 and 2003 Western Collegiate Hockey Association Coach of the Year and the 2003 American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) Women’s Division I Coach of the Year. Along with the incredible NCAA runs, her Bulldogs have captured two WCHA regular season titles (2000 and 2003) and three WCHA playoff titles (2000, 2001 and 2003).

During Miller’s time at the Bulldog helm, UMD has produced eight first-team All-Americans, 11 Patty Kazmaier Award Finalists, two WCHA Players of the Year, three WCHA Student-Athletes of the year and one CoSIDA Academic All-American.

St. Cloud State is led by second-year head coach Jeff Giesen. Giesen has tallied a 28-27-12 mark in two seasons behind the Husky bench, and is 1-9-0 in ten outings against the Bulldogs.

A MATTER OF RECORDS: The Bulldogs are on the verge of erasing a few of their past program records. UMD already rewrote the books earlier in the season when they rolled through the opening four games of the year without allowing a goal for the first time in program history. The Maroon and Gold then tallied a school-best 16-game winning streak from Nov. 24rd through Feb. 2nd, and tied a 1999-00 mark for most WCHA series swept in regular season play with 10.

One Bulldog victory this weekend would set a new UMD record for most WCHA wins in a year. The current record of 22 was set during the 2004-05 season. A Bulldog sweep would tie a school all-time high of 27 regular triumphs in a year, as well as set the new program benchmark for most WCHA series swept in a season (11).

THE CAPTAIN RETURNS: Sophomore captain forward Saara Tuominen, who last suited up for the Bulldogs on Dec. 15, will return to the ice this weekend in a UMD jersey. Tuominen, who was leading the Bulldogs in scoring when she was injured in the European Air Canada Cup the first week in January, had scored 30 points (11g, 19a) in just 20 games this season.

WHO WILL BE CROWNED THE CHAMPS? The Bulldogs hold an advantage heading into the last weekend of regular season WCHA play. With a one point lead over Minnesota, a UMD series sweep would assure the title champions would be crowned in Duluth Sunday, no matter what the result of the Badger-Gopher showdown in Minneapolis. A UMD split would complicate matters, through, and would force the Bulldogs to rely on a Wisconsin-Minnesota series split. A UMD split and a Gopher sweep would result in a Minnesota regular season WCHA title.

The Bulldogs have twice been hailed the WCHA Regular Season Champions (2003 and 2001) in their nine-year history, but have never raised the trophy in Duluth.

SNIPERS AND STREAKERS: Three Bulldogs are in individual races for the 2007-08 WCHA Scoring and Goaltending Championships. The two awards are based on conference games only, and players must have competed in a minimum of 33% of their team's minutes.

Freshman forward Haley Irwin is currently on top of the league scoring race with 39 points (15g, 24a). Right behind Irwin is Minnesota's Gigi Marvin, who is sitting at 37 points, with Bulldog freshman forward Iya Gavrilova in third with 34.

Gavrilova still has a 14-game scoring streak intact, while Irwin is joined by fellow freshman forward Laura Fridfinnson in the midst of seven-game scoring tabs in their own right.

Between the WCHA pipes, netminder Kim Martin trails only Wisconsin's Jessie Vetter (1.38, 1439:26) in the goaltending race. Martin owns a 1.46 goals against average in 1187:48 minutes of action.

Martin, who now has 33 wins in 47 appearances for her career, is ranked No. 2 in the NCAA with a .952 save percentage, allowing just 33 goals in 655 shots against her.

NATIONALLY SPEAKING: Freshman forward Iya Gavrilova just edges out Haley Irwin in the national statistics as the sixth ranked scorer in the country with 1.58 points per game (Irwin is ranked 7th with 1.46). Gavrilova and Irwin are the No. 1 and 2 rookie scorers in the nation with 41 points each.

The Bulldogs as a whole own the No. 3 scoring offense in the NCAA and the leading scoring attack in the WCHA, averaging 4.03 goals a contest. UMD is also the second ranked penalty kill in the nation, having deflated 138-of-149 of opponents power-play attempts for a 92.6 success rate.

CLICK and go read the entire preview

Thursday, February 21, 2008

IYA Gavrilova Situation

I've received a few emails and a blog comment asking why there hasn't been any Iya Gavrilova blog entries concerning the investigation into her eligibility. Well, I decided that to really be fair, the best thing to do is wait until either Iya, Coach Miller, UMD, or the NCAA gives us some FACTS, so there's some real information to comment about.

The one thing I will say is that the NCAA needs to expedite any decision and soon, because the WCHA playoffs are coming, and if UMD's wins are voided it would completely change the WCHA and NCAA playoff pictures.

So, when there is concrete information from any of the sides, and a decision on what's going to happen, I'll give my opinions about it :)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

News Tribune Wisconsin Win Over UMD Story

College women's hockey: UMD’s win streak snapped
Andy Greder Duluth News Tribune
Published Saturday, February 09, 2008
Being sick is never fun.

But being sick when you’re supposed to be playing your best hockey just makes the illness worse.

With eight Minnesota Duluth players battling the flu, the third-ranked Bulldogs saw their school-record 16-game winning streak snapped in a 3-2 defeat to fifth-ranked Wisconsin in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association women’s game Friday at the DECC.

After taking a 1-0 lead, the Badgers (21-6-2 overall, 17-4-2 WCHA) answered both UMD goals with another score.

The Bulldogs (24-4-1, 21-4) tied it at 1 in the second period when freshman Laura Fridfinnson lifted a shot past Wisconsin goalie Jessie Vetter. UMD knotted it again at 2 when sophomore Emmanuelle Blais scored at 4:52 in the third period.

“They had three or four shifts when they really came at us,” Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said. “We just found a way to win.”

Wisconsin increased its winning streak to 11 with Kayla Hagen’s game-winning goal at 10:26 in the third.

UMD outshot the Badgers 29-24, including 14-6 in the third period, but the Bulldogs converted only 1-of-8 power plays.

“I thought we had a lot of good chances, though,” UMD coach Shannon Miller said of the power plays. “That’s the difference right there.”

The Bulldogs got seven of their eight sick players back Friday, with the exception of freshman Iya Gavrilova. Friday’s pregame skate was the first time everyone skated together this week.

“We didn’t have the energy,” Miller said. “They really [were] giving what they have. The energy is low. It’s not because they aren’t excited to play Wisconsin; it’s with that many people getting over the flu or that shouldn’t even be playing.”

The sick ward included Elin Holmlov, Kim Martin, Karine Demeule, Haley Irwin, Heidi Pelttari, Emmanuelle Blais and Libby Guzzo.

“Some of the kids that played tonight probably wish they had a couple more days [of rest],” Miller said.

Demeule, a senior captain, saw positives in the loss.

“After winning 16 games, it boosted our confidence,” Demeule said. “This game against a great team showed we can play hard when we aren’t our best.”

The Bulldogs were stuffed by Vetter and the Badgers, who rank second in the nation with 1.21 goals-against per game.

“Didn’t you see that sheet of Plexiglas we had behind the net?” joked Johnson. “The best penalty killer is the goalie. They had some flurries, but she was up to the task.”

Vetter finished with 27 saves, while Martin had 21 stops for UMD.

The Bulldogs were able to sweep Vetter and the Badgers on Nov. 30-Dec. 1 behind late-game heroics from Gavrilova, who scored two goals in two minutes for the overtime win Dec. 1. Wisconsin beat UMD 4-1 for the 2007 national championship on March 18.

The two teams will play at 7:07 p.m. today to conclude the series.

Friday, February 08, 2008

UmdBulldogs.com Badger Series Preview


In a series that could crown the Western Collegiate Hockey Association champion, the No. 3 University of Minnesota Duluth is set for a collision course with the No. 5 University of Wisconsin in the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center Friday and Saturday night at 7:07 p.m. The Bulldogs are perched at the top of the WCHA, eight points in front of the Badgers. UMD will head into the series with a nation-best 16-game winning streak, while UW will bring to Duluth a 10-game winning string of its own. In this showdown of WCHA powers, one team will be forced to abandon its winning streak Friday night after the ice has settled.

THE SERIES: The Bulldogs will put a 19-14-6 all-time record on display against the Badgers this weekend, including a 7-7-2 showing at the DECC. UMD has not beaten Wisconsin in Duluth since they won back-to-back games on November 5-6, 2004.

UMD swept the Badgers in Madison back on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. The Bulldogs handed UW a 3-1 loss on Nov. 30 behind three goals from three different freshmen, with UMD stifling Wisconsin's power-play five times. The Maroon and Gold then scored two goals in just 45 seconds to convert a comeback into a 3-2 victory on Dec. 1, thanks to freshman Iya Gavrilova, who scored both tallies.

click the title to go read the rest!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Haley Irwin WCHA Offensive Player of the Week

I'm a couple days behind with this but:

University of Minnesota Duluth freshman forward Haley Irwin, who has already earned Western Collegiate Hockey Association Rookie of the Week honors three times this season, was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week for her effort against Ohio State over the weekend. Irwin tallied three goals and three assists for six points to help the No. 3 Bulldogs sweep the Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio.

The native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, scored a goal and dished up three assists in UMD's 6-2 final in Friday night. Irwin then stepped up in the absence of the Bulldogs' first liners and scored two goals, including the game-tying tally the following evening in UMD's 3-2 late-contest win. The rookie, who trails only teammate Iya Gavrilova as the leading rookie scorer in the nation and the WCHA, has scored six points in her last two series (4-8=12). Irwin has compiled 36 points (15g, 21a) in 26 outings this season.

Irwin and the Bulldogs will host No. 5 Wisconsin at the DECC in a battle for WCHA supremacy Friday and Saturday night. The puck drops on the action at 7:07

Sunday, February 03, 2008

News Tribune OSU Sweep Article

College women's hockey: Larocque’s clutch goal helps ’Dogs edge Ohio State
News Tribune, Duluth News Tribune
Published Sunday, February 03, 2008
The freshman class continues to shine for Minnesota Duluth.

Saturday’s star was Joss Larocque.

The defender from Winnipeg, Manitoba, scored the game-winning goal at 18:10 of the third period to boost the Bulldogs past Ohio State 3-2 in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game at the OSU Ice Rink in Columbus, Ohio.

“Our entire first line was out,” UMD coach Shannon Miller said of the injured or sick absences of Iya Gavrilova, Saara Tuominen and Elin Holmlov. “We just had to get a win3-2, 2-1, whatever, and we did it.”

UMD beat the Buckeyes 6-2 Friday night behind two goals from freshman winger Laura Fridfinnson.

The third-ranked Bulldogs (24-3-1, 21-3 WCHA) have won 16 straight games.

Larocque has been in UMD’s top defensive pair since the start of the season and has registered three goals and 15 assists.

Fellow freshman Haley Irwin scored the other two goals for UMD. The freshman center from Thunder Bay, Ontario, scored on a breakaway at 6:10 of the second period to tie the score at 1.

Mallory Peckels scored a short-handed goal as Ohio State took a 2-1 lead at 9:27 of the third.

Irwin scored her second goal of the game at 10:03 to tie the game at 2 before Larocque won it.

Ohio State (12-13-3, 7-12-3) had a 38-30 shot advantage, with a 14-5 edge and a 1-0 lead after one period.

UMD goalie Kim Martin made 36 saves, and Deidre Facklis had 27 stops for the Buckeyes.

Saturday’s late game-winner was the second time the Bulldogs have staved off defeat in 2008. Senior captain Karine Demeule scored with six seconds left as the Bulldogs edged Minnesota State-Mankato 2-1 on Jan. 11.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Fridfinnson Scores With 1:50 Remaining For UMD Sweep In Columbus

As always I'll copy/paste the News Tribune article when its' up, but Laura Fridfinnson socred the game winning goal at 18:10 of the third period to give UMD the sweep over Ohio State.

Haley Irwin tied the game at 2 at 10:03 of the second period, just 36 seconds after UMD gave up a short handed goal to Mallory Peckels.

News Tribune UMD Beats OSU 6-2

College women's hockey: Fridfinnson leads UMD to 15th consecutive win
Published Saturday, February 02, 2008
Winger Laura Fridfinnson has been an overlooked player in Minnesota Duluth’s stellar freshman class.

While Iya Gavrilova and Haley Irwin are No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation in freshman scoring, Fridfinnson has been a consistent player on UMD’s second line.

Fridfinnson, from Arborg, Manitoba, scored two goals to lead the third-ranked Bulldogs over Ohio State 6-2 Friday night in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game at OSU Ice Rink in Columbus, Ohio.

“[Fridfinnson] is a very talented freshman,” UMD coach Shannon Miller said. “It took some time for her to get going, and now she is doing well.”

With the win, UMD improved its school-record winning streak to 15 games.

While Gavrilova leads the team with 40 points and Irwin is second with34 points, Fridfinnson has contributed 10 goals and13 assists for 23 points in27 games.

The WCHA-leading Bulldogs (23-3-1, 20-3 WCHA) scored four straight goals to break a 2-2 second-period tie.

In the first 26 minutes, the Bulldogs scored and the Buckeyes quickly answered.

Fridfinnson scored the game’s first goal in the first period, and Ohio State tiedit in the second period.Irwin gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead, and the Buckeyes tied it within three minutes.

The Bulldogs won despite the absence of first-line players Gavrilova, who was out with the flu, and Saara Tuominen, who remains out with a torn knee ligament. Elin Holmlov played sparingly withflu-like symptoms.

UMD held a 44-28shot edge, including a36-17 advantage through two periods.

Kim Martin made26 saves for UMD, while Liana Bonanno had 38 stops for the Buckeyes (12-12-3,7-11-3).

Karine Demeule, Emmanuelle Blais and Sara O’Toole also scored for UMD.

The Bulldogs converted on two of five power plays, and Ohio State was 1-for-6.