Gopher women earn extra point in shootout against Minnesota Duluth

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The Gophers’ 2-1 win over the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in a shootout on Friday night at Ridder Arena was not as dramatic as so many of the previous meetings in the storied rivalry.
With one game to play in the regular season, the Gophers are locked in as the third seed for the WCHA playoffs, and will begin a best-of-three series with Minnesota State-Mankato next Friday at Ridder.

But Friday’s game was not without meaning.

“There were not WCHA points on the line, so the shootout meant absolutely nothing,” Gophers coach Brad Frost said. “But it makes you feel better when the crowd goes crazy and you win. But there’s still so much on the line in the national picture, so we want to keep winning as much as we can to solidify our spot there.”

It was a big night for Gophers leading scorer Abbey Murphy, who scored the teams only goal, and in doing so reached the 30-goal mark on the season.

Murphy became the 12th player in Gophers history to reach 30 goals in a season. Five players have done it twice.

Nadine Muzerall set the team record with 49 goals in 1999-2000. Murphy’s 30 goals match Taylor Heise’s team-high from last season. Prior to Heise, the last Gophers player to reach the 30-goal mark was Dani Cameranisi, who scored 33 in the 2015-16 season.

The redshirt junior from the suburbs of Chicago took the milestone in stride.

“I just want to keep scoring goals and help my team any way I can,” Murphy said. “It’s a fun position to be in, but I’m not focused on that. I just want to win.”
Murphy leads the nation in goals, and to achieve that as season’s end would have special meeting to her. “It would — 100 percent,” Murphy said. “It’s fun to be in that spot, and I’m going to try to hold that down.”

The Bulldogs scored the only goal of the first period. Taking advantage of a turnover in the Gophers’ zone, Mary Kate O’Brien beat Gophers goalie Skylar Vetter on a wrist shot from high in the slot.

Murphy tied the game with a power-play goal at 9:19 of the second period, beating Bulldogs goalie Hailey MacLeod on a rebound.

Neither team could get the upper hand from that point on, and battled it out right through the overtime and into the shootout.

The Gophers shot first in the shootout, and Ella Huber tucked the puck in on a deke. Vetter stopped all three UMD attempts to seal the win.

“We do a lot of shootout work on Thursday,” Vetter said. “It’s a lot of fun to be able to stop all three.”

Vetter, who has shared goaltending duties with Lucy Morgan all season, felt that Friday’s effort has been one of her best of the season.

“I feel like I’ve been pretty consistent all year,” Vetter said. “So now, just building on that for the playoffs. I’m definitely happy with what I did tonight.”
Frost said the same about the team as a whole.

“It’s playoff-type hockey,” he said. “They’re obviously a very good team; There’s a reason they are top five in the country in goals against — great goaltending, they’re very structured, they block a lot of shots.”

In that sense, this weekend provides a good look at what likely is ahead.

“Our coach talked about it being a true effort,” Murphy said. “It doesn’t always show on the scoreboard. But we played well defensively. Offensively, we just need to find more ways to put the puck in the net.

“But we played a very disciplined game, and that’s what we need to do moving on.”

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