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Gophers women’s hockey continues revenge tour with win over Duluth

Minnesota dominated Duluth 3-0 and clinched a trip to the Frozen Four.
Image by Ethan Fine
Forward Audrey Wethington drives the puck down the ice during Minnesota’s game against St. Cloud, Feb. 11, 2022.

The Gophers hosted Duluth at Ridder Arena Saturday afternoon for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament quarterfinals and won 3-0, securing a spot in the Frozen Four.

The Gophers earned a spot in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals after defeating Ohio State 3-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) on March 4.

Last season, the Gophers were upset by the Bulldogs 2-1 in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Just like last year, Minnesota was ranked second on the USCHO national rankings heading into the NCAA tournament — stuck behind No. 1 Ohio State, again.

This season, Minnesota looked to deny a repeat of history by triumphing over Duluth.

Despite no goals, the first period gave both teams quality scoring chances.

Minnesota’s Madeline Wethington finally broke the deadlock midway through the second period. She went end-to-end, finishing with a shot from the top of the circles that managed to beat WCHA Goaltender of the Year Emma Soderberg.

Duluth challenged the goal for offside but to no avail. As a result, the Bulldogs were stripped of a timeout in accordance with NCAA rules.

Though having the first goal is important, it’s not always enough to propel a team to victory. In last season’s quarterfinal matchup, Abigail Boreen opened the scoring for Minnesota, but Duluth rallied back and won the game.

Wethington’s goal would be the second period’s lone goal, and Minnesota headed into the third period with a 1-0 lead.

Abbey Murphy doubled the Gophers’ lead a few minutes into the third period with a highlight reel goal. Murphy danced through Duluth’s defense, going inside-out on defender Taylor Stewart before beating Soderberg top-shelf from a sharp angle.

Duluth’s coaching staff once again attempted to challenge the goal, this time for the net being dislodged prior to the goal.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, their challenge attempt failed a second time. Since Duluth had already surrendered a timeout, Minnesota was granted a power play.

The Gophers were unable to score during the game’s only power play, recording just one shot on net in the two-minute player advantage.

Midway through the third period, Catie Skaja nabbed the insurance marker, sniping a shot on a breakaway to give Minnesota a comfortable 3-0 lead.

Duluth pulled their goaltender with just over four minutes to play in regulation, hoping for a late comeback.

Nonetheless, Minnesota’s netminder Skylar Vetter continued to stand tall through the final frame, steering away all 14 of the Bulldogs’ third period shots.

The Gophers shut out the Bulldogs 3-0 and clinched a spot at the Frozen Four next weekend, crushing Duluth’s hopes of playing on home ice in the tournament’s subsequent rounds.

Vetter, a sophomore from Lakeville, recorded her seventh shutout of the season.

The game represented an overall outstanding performance from Minnesota’s squad, something they will need to continue in their rivalry matchup versus Wisconsin. The Badgers took down No. 3 Colgate on Saturday 4-2.

Minnesota and Wisconsin will cross paths for the sixth time this season on Friday at 6 p.m. in Duluth, this time with one team’s season and a trip to the NCAA championship at stake.

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