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Minnesota Duluth Defeats Northeastern 2-1 in 2OT Classic

COLLEGE HOCKEY: FEB 05 Womens - Minnesota Duluth at Wisconsin Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Even for a game that was expected to be very close, the first semifinal of the 2022 women’s Frozen Four found a way to exceed expectations. Four periods of play could not decide a winner, and it looked like the game was headed to a third overtime before Minnesota Duluth’s Naomi Rogge fired a wrist shot late in the second overtime that Northeastern goalie Aerin Frankel deflected, but could not stop, and the Bulldogs advanced to the title game with a 2-1 2OT victory over Northeastern.

After a back-and-forth scoreless first period, Northeastern opened the scoring at 3:35 of the second period when chaos in front of the UMD net allowed Skylar Irving to bang home a loose puck off a chance created by Katy Knoll to put Northeastern ahead.

Northeastern would continue to press their advantage, and had multiple opportunities to take a 2-0 lead, including a glorious chance in the waning seconds of the period when UMD goalie Emma Soderberg slid across her crease to glove a one-timer attempt by Northeastern’s Skylar Fontaine. But the Bulldogs escaped the second period down by one and with the game still within reach.

The Bulldogs would eventually get the equalizer at 10:05 of the third period when off an offensive zone face-off play, Taylor Anderson batted a loose puck on net and through the legs of Frankel to tie the game.

The rest of the third period was scoreless, which sent the two teams into sudden death for a berth in the national title game, for a second consecutive season.

The first overtime did not produce a winner, though both teams had some excellent chances. The best of which game when Elizabeth Giguere lasered a cross-ice pass to Gabbie Hughes on the doorstep of the Northeastern goal, but Frankel got across her crease to make the save.

The pace slowed a bit in the second overtime with both teams starting to show the effects of the long game. It seemed as though the game was destined for a third overtime, until the final two minutes of the frame when Minnesota Duluth created a neutral zone turnover allowing Elizabeth Giguere to bring the puck into the offensive zone. She passed to Rogge, who was skating down the slot and fired a hard wrist shot that got by Frankel for the game-winner.

It was a fantastic, well-played game between two excellent hockey teams and a shame that one of them had to suffer OT heartbreak in the Frozen Four for a second consecutive year. Minnesota Duluth’s win advances them to Sunday’s national title game where they will await the winner of the second semifinal between Ohio State and Yale.

Notes and Thoughts:

-It was one helluva ride to get there, but ultimately, this game played out a lot like I expected.

I had a feeling that the top lines for each team would end up cancelling each other out, and they did. Neither played a huge factor in the scoring(technically Giguere sets up the last goal as UMD was between shifts), though not for lack of chances. Both top lines were dangerous, and on a different night, with less stellar goaltending, they each could have had a couple. But this was a game that was going to be decided down the line chart.

Early on, that was a decisive victory for Northeastern, thanks in large part to an incredible game from Katy Knoll. She was consistently creating scoring chances throughout the first and second period, and again, if not for some bad bounces and excellent goaltending, she might have factored in two or three goals on the night. She did create one in the second period by active in front of the net.

Northeastern wanted to match top line vs. top line for most of the game, but with their second line taking such good shifts in the second period, they were able to put that line out against UMD’s top line and keep UMD’s dangerous scorers penned in their defensive end.

But UMD made a couple line-up adjustments that ended up swinging the game. The biggest was bringing senior McKenzie Hewett up from the fourth line to play on the third line. Hewett was outstanding as a disruptor all game, creating havoc and ended up creating both of UMD’s goals.

On the first goal, UMD makes a simple dump into the zone on goal. Aerin Frankel wants Northeastern to move the puck, but Hewett hustles in and forces Frankel to freeze the puck, setting up an offensive zone faceoff. UMD wins the draw and eventually knocks a loose puck into the net to even up the game.

In the overtime, Hewett makes a little extra effort play to tie up a Northeastern player in the neutral zone, allowing Elizabeth Giguere to swoop in and pick up the loose puck, leading to the game-winning goal.

In all, Hewett ends with assists on both goals, despite having just six assists in her four years at UMD coming into the game, and no assists during this current season.

-The other potential difference-maker that I highlighted before the game that ended up coming through in a big way was, of course, Naomi Rogge with the game-winner. A fifth-year senior, struggled through some tough injuries in her career including one that cost her a whole season, had to take a little bit of a lesser role on this team with Elizabeth Giguere joining the program. But there may not be a better third line player in the country. She anchored that line for the Bulldogs and gave them a lot of great, dangerous shifts. It was well-deserved that she got the goal to send UMD to the championship.

-Finally, you can’t say enough about how well both goalies played in goal. You might think nearly 100 minutes of 1-1 hockey might be boring, but there were some legit scoring chances both ways in this one. This one from Soderberg might have saved UMD’s season, and this save by Frankel in overtime was just as good.