Duluth, MN – The Huskies finished the NCHC regular season on a flat note surrendering six goals to the #5 ranked UMD Bulldogs, getting rolled 6-1 and swept in the weekend series at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. Granted, the Bulldogs had more on the line with the possibility of a league co-championship pending the outcome of the North Dakota vs Omaha game (UND won 5-0). The Huskies on the other hand, were at the mercy of Denver and Western Michigan to determine their opponent for next weekend. A 5-1 win by Denver over Colorado College sealed the playoff seeding with the Huskies heading to Kalamazoo, MI for their first road playoff series since the 2016-17 season.
In a forgettable series finale, the Huskies fell behind by a goal in the first 1:36 of the contest and never recovered as the Bulldogs avenged a January sweep by the Huskies in St. Cloud. Although the final shots on goal of 36 to 30 appeared on paper to be a close game it was just the opposite as the Huskies fell behind by a 5-1 margin after two periods and were never a threat to inject themselves into the game.
“That was clearly a team that outplayed us for 55 minutes of the game – they were the better team” said coach Brett Larson. “That’s a tape you hopefully throw in the garbage and don’t watch again. That was a dominant game by them.”
On pulling David Hrenak in period two Larson said “David’s been playing really well. They were outplaying us so badly that I didn’t want to leave David in there and keep facing that.”
On looking forward to the NCHC quarterfinals (vs Western Michigan) “Starting Monday it’s the first practice of the new season” Larson said. “That’s how we will re-set. We worked really hard to get where we are. We went through a gauntlet and had to work so hard to get some of those wins against North Dakota and Denver. Coming in here to Duluth playing three of the top teams in the country (consecutively) we just ran out of gas”.
The Bulldogs were a determined team entering period one and Justin Richards gave the Bulldogs an early lead with his 13th goal of the season 1:36 into the period. Richards entered the SCSU zone in the left lane and made a power move to the SCSU goal and slammed the puck past David Hrenak for a 1-0 UMD lead. With the Huskies generating little attack in the UMD zone, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 2-0 at 13:07 on another goal by Richards. This time with SCSU unable to clear the zone, Cole Koepke floated the puck from the left point to Scott Perunovich who sent a diagonal pass to Richards waiting in the left circle and he one-timed a quick shot past Hrenak for a 2-0 lead. The Bulldogs had 26 attempted shots in the period with 14 hitting ir’s mark as they outshot the Huskies 14 to 7. The Huskies on the other hand, had one legitimate shot in the slot by Jack Ahcan as they failed to test Bulldog netminder Hunter Shepard.
The Bulldogs added to the misery of this game with three more goals in period two as they catapulted to a 5-1 lead by periods end. First, it was Koby Bender adding his second goal of the weekend at 6:06 of period two. Bender pounced on a turnover just inside the SCSU blue line and beat Hrenak one on one sliding the puck beneath him for a 2-0 UMD lead. This spelled the end of the night for Hrenak who was relieved by Joseph Lamoreaux.
Lamoreaux however, was victimized immediately with another UMD goal less than a minute later at 15:02 with a goal by Kobe Roth, his 13th goal of the season. Roth carried the puck in along the right wall and let go a wrister from the right circle that beat Lamoreaux for a 3-0 Bulldog advantage.
The Huskies interrupted the Bulldog scoring spree with a goal by sophomore Micah Miller at 16:43. The Poehling brothers combined with Jack feeding Nick in the right corner and he found Miller in the right circle who unleashed a major league wrist shot that beat Hunter Shepard clean to narrow the lead to 4-1. However, it was short-lived as the Bulldogs piled on another goal at 17:05 by Bender, his second of the game and third of the weekend. Bender buried a rebound off a shot from the point by Dylan Samberg for a 5-1 lead by the end of period two.
In a better period on the shot chart by the Huskies, they outshot UMD 13 to 12 and had eight shots in the slot with only the shot by Miller beating Shepard.
With the outcome no longer in question, the teams traded 10 shots on goal for the period and the Bulldogs added one final tally by first-year forward Luke Loheit at 17:13. The Bulldogs Jesse Jacques won an offensive zone draw and Loheit jumped on the puck and beat Lamoreaux with a wrist shot from between the dots for the 6-1 final.
For the game, UMD outshot SCSU 36-30. David Hrenak allowed three goals on 22 shots and Joey Lamoreaux allowed three more on 14 shots. UMD’s Hunter Shepard had an outstanding game turning aside 26 of 27 shots on goal. Both teams were scoreless on the power play with SCSU 0 for 3 and UMD 0 for 2. The Huskies were out-dueled in the faceoff circle 38-26.
“The most important thing was to play a better game, try and get a win for our seniors and close the year out the right way.” said head coach Scott Sandelin. “I thought our guys came out and had a real good first period and we fed off that.”
Stars of the Game: #1 Kobey Bender (UMD) #2 Justin Richards (UMD) #3 Dylan Samberg (UMD)