DULUTH, Minn. --- The University of North Dakota women's hockey team grinded out a 4-1 win over Western Collegiate Hockey Association rival Minnesota Duluth at Amsoil Arena Friday.
The win improves North Dakota to 23-10 on the year and 17-9 within the league while maintaining its two-point lead over Wisconsin for second in the WCHA standings heading into the final night of the regular season tomorrow.
A win tomorrow or a Wisconsin loss would clinch second place for UND's highest finish in program history. Tonight's win also extended UND's current program-record winning streak to nine games and set a new single-season high with 23 wins on the year.
UND also guaranteed a winning season against the Bulldogs for the first time ever and can finish off the season sweep with a win Saturday.
North Dakota moved into a three-way tie in the PairWise Rankings which mimics the system used to establish the eight teams that move on to the NCAA National Tournament.
Although listed on the game's line chart, UMD netminder Kayla Black, who had started all but two games this season, did not dress for the game.
Freshman Karissa Grapp made her first collegiate start after only having played in one game this season and a total of 10 minutes, 11 seconds of a third period against St. Cloud State on Jan. 13.
UND's win tonight came in a blue-collar fashion as its defensive effort was stifling at times, finishing the game with a 30-19 advantage in shots and did not allow an even-strength goal.
North Dakota came out and played with a lot of confidence early, while the home team looked a little flat, which allowed it to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
Only one minute, 41 seconds into the game Michelle Karvinen (Rodovre, Denmark) set up beside the net and redirected a great slap-pass from Monique Lamoureux (Grand Forks, N.D.) into the back of the net for the early lead.
Jocelyne Lamoureux (Grand Forks, N.D.) found her sister for a breakaway to add to lead. With plenty of time came in slowly on Grapp and was able to make multiple dekes and score on her forehand at the 14:48 mark.
The Bulldogs were able to cut the lead to one last in the second period on the power play. Brigette Lacquette waited out a blocked shot attempt and until a screen was set and sent a slapshot into the net at 18:19 of the second period.
The goal came on only UMD's eighth shot on goal as it was being outshot 20-8 at that point.
UMD carried the momentum from the goal into the third period and carried the play for first time in the game.
UND was able to hold of the Bulldog push however and added a pair of empty-net goals in the final minute by Meghan Dufault (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and to secure the win.
Freshman Shelby Amsley-Benzie (Warroad, Minn.) picked up her 16th win, tying UND's single-season record, while stopping 18-of-19 shots face.
Grapp was impressive in her collegiate debut with 26 saves and two goals allowed.
UND will close out its series with the Bulldogs tomorrow at 6:07 p.m. and will return to the Ralph Engelstad Arena that following week for the first round of the WCHA Playoffs. Its opponent is yet to be determined.