Duluth, MN – Hunter Shepard stopped 30 of 31 shots on goal and the #5 Bulldogs capitalized on three SCSU turnovers to defeat the #1 ranked SCSU Huskies 3-1 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth on Friday, January 11. The loss spoiled coach Brett Larson’s homecoming as the former Bulldog assistant now SCSU head coach brought his top-ranked Huskies to Amsoil for a key weekend series. There were no excuses by Larson as he simply stated ” there are no moral victories in this league. We will have to be better tomorrow.” Regardless, the Huskies dominated long stretches of this contest and outshot the Bulldogs 31-18 but simply couldn’t score on the power play nor get anything past Shepard in a highly disappointing loss. Coach Sandelin admitted “Our best player was our goaltender. When our team is not playing great, your best player has to be your goalie. Shep was outstanding tonight, made some great saves and gave us a chance to win.”
As Larson expected, the Bulldogs attacked hard and the tactic worked as first-line center Peter Kreiger produced a turnover on a hard forecheck on SCSU first-year defenseman, NIck Perbix and steered the puck to Nick Swaney who was waiting in the slot and wristed it cleanly past SCSU goaltender David Hrenak for a 1-0 lead. SCSU outshot the Bulldogs 14-6 in the period but failed on three power play opportunities. Shot attempts favored SCSU 23 to 12 in the period.
The second period continued with the Huskies on the attack and some very strong play in particular by the line anchored by Ryan Poehling and flanked by senior Robby Jackson and freshman Nolan Walker. The efforts eventually paid off as Jackson (Ahcan | Hentges) scored his 101st career point at 16:20. Ahcan took a shot from inside the blue line and Jackson was at the goalmouth to deflect it past Shepard to knot the game at 1-1. A hooking call to UMD’s Jackson Cates gave the Huskies another power play opportunity at 17:22 but college hockey’s top-ranked penalty kill shut down the Huskies for the fourth time in the game. SCSU outshot the Bulldogs 26-10 through two periods.
The third period again saw the Bulldogs shut down college hockey’s 6th ranked power play for the fifth time in the contest after a penalty to Peter Krieger for holding at 4:50. Another forced turnover led to the Bulldogs second goal at 9:53, First-year forward Noah Cates, fresh off the World Junior tournament, out-muscled the Huskies Jon Lizotte for the puck at the goal mouth and then beat Hrenak to give the Bulldogs a one goal advantage 2-1. With the Huskies pressing and exerting a great deal of offensive pressure on Shepard and the Bulldogs another turnover led to the final goal of the game. With SCSU pressuring the blueline, Brodzinski attempted to cip the puck into the zone and it bounced off Justin Richards who retrieved the puck and capitalized on a breakaway netting the Bulldogs third goal at 18:22.
SCSU outshot the Bulldogs 31 to 18 in the contest and in a tremendous outing, Hunter Shepard turned aside 30 of 31 shots on goal to earn his 12th win of the season. SCSU starter David Hrenak faced 18 shots on goal stopping 15 in the loss. One of the key statistics in the game was the Huskies inability to score on the man-advantage going 0 for 5 in the contest, SCSU had a total of 66 shot attempts in the game vs 39 for the Bulldogs.
Both Kevin Fitzgerald and Jacob Benson left the game with injuries. It’s unknown the extent and whether it will preclude them from Saturday’s game.
The teams return to the ice on Saturday at 7:05 PM CT for the series finale.
Stars of the Game: #1 Shepard (UMD), Cates (UMD), Swaney (UMD)