St. Cloud, Minn. --- The University of North Dakota women's hockey team grinded out a 3-0 win Saturday over the St. Cloud State Huskies to sweep the four-game regular season Western Collegiate Hockey Association series.
North Dakota improves to 16-10-0 (11-9-0-0 WCHA) while the Huskies drop to 8-18-2 (4-17-1-0 WCHA).
UND picks up its first conference series sweep since Nov. 23-24 against Minnesota Duluth and picked up all six critical points in the race for home ice in the WCHA playoffs. There is becoming a logjam for the second through fifth positions as Wisconsin and Minnesota Duluth are currently tied for second with 37 points, Ohio State fourth with 34 points and UND fifth with 33 points.
"Huge points out there for us to get every weekend," head coach Brian Idalski said. "We talk about playoff atmosphere and that we need to win a lot of hockey games down the stretch. We did a solid job, especially in the third period, of being disciplined, getting pucks deep and being good on the breakout. It was good to see the club buying into that."
Freshman Shelby Amsley-Benzie collected her second career shutout and her second in the last two weekends since being named the everyday starter in net. She concluded the game with 28 saves.
"I thought she played extremely well," Idalski said. "We didn't necessarily come out with a lot of hop. I thought St. Cloud State had a couple great opportunities off of some turnovers early and Shelby may go unnoticed overall, but she kept us in there until we got our legs going and we were able to play with the lead. Great confidence booster for her and you can see that the team is really starting to gel in front of her and has confidence in her back there. It is all coming together."
In a tightly contested first period, Meghan Dufault (Winnipeg, Manitoba) tallied the game's first goal at the 15:34 mark which would stand into the first intermission. Jocelyne Lamoureux had a nice deke to get Fitzgerald out of position and dropped the puck back to Dufault for the wide-open net.
Senior Jocelyne Lamoureux (Grand Forks, N.D.) extended the lead in the second period with UND's first shorthanded goal of the season and Josefine Jakobsen (Aalborg, Denmark) wrapped of the game's scoring in the third period with a power-play goal.
"Special teams has been fantastic here the past few weeks," Idalski said. "That is a great sign down the stretch."
North Dakota edged the Huskies 31-28 in shots while holding them 0-for-6 on the power play.
UND returns to the road next weekend for another conference battle on Friday and Saturday against Minnesota State University, Mankato.
"It is going to be another disciplined team that will compete all over the ice," Idalski said. "We have had some trouble with them in the past, especially down in Mankato, so we need to turn the page here when we get to practice on Monday and focus on what we need to do to get a couple more wins."