Bulldogs rise to heights on both twin bills
It was a classic UMD hockey weekend at AMSOIL Arena, with the UMD men — as usual — playing in prime time both Friday and Saturday nights,
and the Bulldogs lived up to the billing by sweeping Colorado College in the 4-3 first game and then a 5-0 shutout in Game 2.
That doesn’t tell the whole story, of course. The first game required three third-period goals, with the third winning the game when Cole
Koepke’s one-timer from the right circle on Scott Perunovich’s perfect pass with a tick over 18 seconds remaining. The second game was closer
than the 5-0 score indicated, with Hunter Shepard getting the shutout after Noah Cates blew open a tight, 2-0 game with two power-play goals on the same 5-minute major to open the third period.
The sweep puts the Bulldogs in good shape in the NCHC with their second sweep, but they will find out who can claim Minnesota superiority this weekend, when Minnesota State-Mankato comes to AMSOIL Arena for a non conference series. MSU-Mankato is, in case you haven’t noticed, ranked No. 1 in the nation while storming to first place in the WCHA. The series not only will be for bragging rights in the state, but could have a huge bearing on post-season seedings for NCAA regional play.
But the spotlight for the whole hockey weekend should have been on Friday’s preliminary” game, when the UMD Bulldogs played their best game
perhaps in Mauer Crowell’s five years coaching by beating No. 1 ranked Minnesota 3-2 in double overtime. The game officially counts as a tie,
but in their first venture to the WCHA Woman’s second overtime being 3-on-3, Kylie Hanley broke in and veered to the slot for a shot that was tipped in by Jalyn Elmes at the right edge at 0:59.
The Bulldogs got a quick jump in play through a scoreless first period, then took leads of 1-0- and 2-1 in the second, on goals by Anna Klein, and Sydney Brodt, only to have the No. 1 rated Gophers counter for goals by Emily Oden and Alex Woken.
“Welcome to the Bulldog-Gopher women’s hockey rivalry,” said Gopher coach Brad Frost, who acknowledged that the Bulldogs came out strong,
and never backed off — keeping the Gophers on their heels for much of the game. It was to the Gophers credit that they scrambled back into the game, weathering UMD’s attack and getting a couple goals past Maddie Rooney.
From UMD’s standpoint, the game was a high-water mark, especially after losing and tying at Ohio State last weekend. While UMD’s top
line, with Gabbie Hughes centering Sydney Brodt an dAnna Klein, is known throughout women’s hockey, the second and third lines have
usually played hard but mostly been to fill in time while the top liners catch their breath to score again. Not in this game. All three lines, with occasional input by the fourth, played their Gopher counterparts to a standstill, if not outplaying them with a fierce forecheck. It was the second line that got the game-winner.
The men’s game that followed lacked the overall intensity of the women’s game, until the third period, when the Bulldogs came out of their 2-1 deficit and stormed the CC net. Koby Roth’s goal tied it 2-2, but it wasn’t until Grant Cruikshank went off for a 5-minute major for crunching Nick Swaney into the side boards that the Bulldogs gained the lead, when Tanner Lateroute scored on the power play at 15:07. That looked good enough for the victory, but CC coach Mike Haviland pulled goalie Matt Vernon — son of former Detroit Red Wing star goalie Mike Vernon — with 2:35 remaining, and Nick Halloran tied it 3-3 with his second goal of the game, coming with 4:53 remaining.
That gave Bulldog defenseman Scott Perunovich the chance to extend his incredible run. Perunovich, who does a Brett Favre impersonation as he
stays behind the fray picking out pass-receivers, then hits them with pinpoint precision, had assisted on every goal UMD had scored since
the 5-2 victory over Denver. That means all four in the split at Miami, and on the goals by Jackson Cates, Koby Roth and Tanner Laderoute Friday night, and he set up shop at center point in the final minute Friday.
He had Justin Richards at the top of the left circle, and Cole Koepke at the top of the right circle. Perunovich took the pass from Richards, and Koepke was wide open, a left-handed gun on the right side. But a defender was shading toward him, anticipating a pass. Perunovich, therefore, started to crank up for a slapshot from center point, but stopped his downstroke and instead fed to the right. Koepke blistered his one-time slap shot at 19:41, and UMD had won 4-3.
Different stories in both games on Saturday, but both were highly entertaining. In the women’s game, it was the Gophers who came out
with the jump, and UMD’s skaters were on their heels. Sarah Potomak put the Gophers up 1-0 midway through the first after a bad turnover.
The Bulldogs only made two defensive mistakes Friday, and they led directly to both Gopher goals — one on a 2-0n-0. But it was more the norm Saturday, as the goal gave Minnesota a 6-0 edge in shots, and the Bulldogs didn’t get their first shot until 11:40.
Failing to clear led to a 2-0 Gopher led when Catie Skaja scored her first of two goals at 2;20 of the second period. Annake Linser got one back for UMD, and then Sydney Brodt tied it at 8:15. The 2-2 tie should have lifted the Bulldogs to another victory, bug Skaja scored by maneuvering [ast two UMD defenders to get to a loose puck in the crease that Rooney thought she had covered. After Rooney had stopped a breakaway, Gracie Zumwinkle scored on a 2-on-1 when the Bulldog defenseman fell down.
Down 4-2, the Bulldogs stormed out for the third period and took over the game. Aided by three consecutive penalties to the Gophers, the Bulldogs held a gigantic 19-2 edge in shots in the period, and Ashton Bell finally got one past goalie Sydney Scobee with 56 seconds left to lift UMD to a one-goal deficit. But it ended that way, 4-3 for Minnesota.
“That was a great hockey game,” said UMD coach Maura Crowell. “That’s the No, 1 team in the country; we’re in good shape.”
That set the stage for the weekend finale, and Colorado College came out full of fire, but Hunter Shepard was simply invincible in goal, stopping all 25 shots, and getting enough scoring through two periods — by Koby Roth and Justin Richards — for a 2-0 cushion.A firtst-minute major penalty lon Zach Berzolla in the third period, when he ran Roth into the boards, gave UMD a two-man advantage for Jackson Cates to set up brother Noah at 0:48, and then on the one-man edge for Jackson Cates to set up Noah at 3:51, doubling the lead to 4-0.
Perunovich assisted on Roth’s opening goal, running his string to nine consecutive UMD goals where he had an assist, but then he failed to assist on the Richards goal, before being the triggerman with assists on both of Noah Cates’s goals — giving him assists on 11 of 12 UMD goals. Luke Loheit scored a few minutes later off a Koby Bender assist to end it 5-0.
The Bulldogs fired 35 shots, and seemed to suddenly snap back into last spring’s NCAA tournament form by putting the puck deep into the CC zone, forechecking to retrieve it, then cycling back and forth in a coordinated performance that never let the Tigers come up for air.
It was quite a weekend, and now the UMD men take on the Mavericks. The No. 1 Mavericks.