UND loses first, shuts out Gophers in game two

A challenging battle with Minnesota ended in both a loss and redemption this weekend.

UND would lose in a 3-0 game one final but crawled back in game two and snagged the extra point after a fierce shootout match. In spite of the loss in game one, the Fighting Hawks shootout win clinched home ice advantage for the first round of the 2016 WCHA Playoffs.

In a game that could’ve ended in a win for either team, the unfortunate loss was handed to UND goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie. The loss was not for the lack of trying as Amsley-Benzie saved 25 shots while her defense blocked another 23.

Furthermore, the Hawks showed the self-discipline that‘s  been an issue all year, as both teams only took a single trip to the penalty box. Nevertheless, a single power play was all the Gophers needed to make it on the board first.

The remainder of the game followed suit as both teams duked it out while the Gophers claimed a goal in each remaining period for the final score of 3-0.

The 3-0 final also saw the return of forward Amanda Kessel. It had been nearly three years since Kessel skated for the Gophers due to a concussion that kept her out of the lineup. Showing no signs of rust, Kessel recorded two assists in Minnesota’s victory. 

Game two took the same tone as both teams came out firing even though the score did not reflect that as both squads were shut out. Amsley-Benzie chalked up her 21st shutout of the season and the third scoreless tie for UND this season. Saturday’s game also marked the only tied results between the two teams and the first shutout Minnesota has faced this season.

After three periods and a five-minute overtime, the game ended in a shootout. After the initial three rounds, both teams were tied up at one goal apiece. The shootout saw another eight rounds before UND forward Charly Dahlquist put the puck in off the side post to give UND the advantage. It came down to the Gopher’s Nina Rodgers to even up the score. Unable to find the net, Rodger’s miss ended the extended shootout and gave UND the extra point.

Holding off 10 players in the shootout was crucial.

“I was just trying to stay calm,” Amsley-Benzie said. “The more it goes on the more confident you get and I knew we were going to score eventually, so I was just trying to do my job.”

A sign of a great player is one who will do their job even when the stakes are the highest. Even though she was nervous, Dahlquist delivered when it mattered most.

“When I was watching all the players shoot, they were all trying to deek Leveille, the one person that did score was Amy and she shot blocker side,” Dahlquist said. “I was nervous; I could end it here, when I was going down the ice, I saw the blocker side open, I shot it and it hit the inner post and went it.”

North Dakota returns to Grand Forks for its final home series of the regular season, hosting St. Cloud State this Friday at 7:07 p.m. and Saturday at 4:07 p.m. at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Allyson Bento is a sports writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]