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Minnesota Duluth blanks Wisconsin in NCAA women's hockey final

NHL.com @NHL

DULUTH, Minn. - Kim Martin stopped 28 shots to lead Minnesota Duluth past Wisconsin 4-0 Saturday at the NCAA women's hockey championship.

The win was the school's fourth championship in eight years, and first since 2003. Wisconsin beat UMD 4-1 in the women's Frozen Four final last year for its second straight crown.

Haley Irwin of Thunder Bay, Ont., Emmanuelle Blais of Lasalle, Que., Sara O'Toole of Burton, N.B., and Karine Demeule of Montreal scored for the Bulldogs (34-4-1), who beat Wisconsin (29-9-3) five out of six times this season.

Martin, a finalist for the 2008 Patty Kazmaier Award given to the nation's top Division I women's hockey player, entered the game with a .947 goals against average. Despite 10 power plays for Wisconsin, Martin was rarely tested, thanks in large part to a defence that cleared rebounds and opened lanes so she had good looks at the puck.

Her best saves came in the third period, stopping Hilary Knight and Jinelle Zaugg from the slot.

Playing in front of their home fans, Irwin gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead with 37.6 seconds left in the first period.

Jocelyne Larocque centred the puck from the left wall, and after a scramble in front of Jessie Vetter, Irwin pushed the puck across the line. The play was under review for about five minutes before it was determined that Irwin was not in the crease, and Vetter was not interfered with.

Blais scored on the power play midway through the second period, backhanding a rebound into the net after Vetter failed to cover a loose puck during a scramble.

O'Toole scored short-handed with 1:36 to go in the middle period, taking advantage of a turnover by Wisconsin at its blue line. She eluded Malee Windmeier, and went in alone to beat Vetter with a high wrist shot. It was the team's NCAA-best 11th short-handed goal of the year.

Demeule added an empty-netter in the third period.

A team from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association has won the title in all eight years of the tournament.

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