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College men's hockey: UMD's season ends with playoff loss to Western Michigan

Dominic Toninato (17) and Andy Welinski (7) of Minnesota Duluth shoot the puck on goal against Western Michigan goaltender Frank Slubowski at Amsoil Arena in Duluth on Saturday night, March 15, 2014. (Clint Austin / / 4
Adam Krause (26) and Alex Iafallo (14) of Minnesota Duluth watch as the puck goes into the goal past Western Michigan goaltender Frank Slubowski at Amsoil Arena in Duluth on Saturday night, March 15, 2014. Krause scored the goal on the play. (Clint Austin / / 4
Tony Cameranesi (13) and Willie Raskob (15), both of Minnesota Duluth, celebrate after Cameranesi scored the first goal of the game against Western Michigan at Amsoil Arena in Duluth on Saturday night, March 15, 2014. (Clint Austin / / 4
Western Michigan head coach Andy Murray yells at the officials after a goal was overturned in the first period of Saturday's game against UMD at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. (Clint Austin / / 4

Western Michigan must be glad games aren’t decided by shots on goal.

The Broncos, heavily dominated on the shot chart all night, made their attempts count and in the process ended Minnesota Duluth’s season.

Western Michigan, outshot 38-11, scored on its first two shots and overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat the Bulldogs 4-3 and win the National Collegiate Hockey Conference men’s quarterfinal series 2-0 at a half-empty Amsoil Arena.

“Some people would say that’s an ugly game, but it was beautiful from where I was sitting because we found a way to get the job done,” Broncos coach Andy Murray said.

The Broncos (19-14-5) advance to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals against Miami, a shocking two-game winner over top-seeded St. Cloud State, on Friday at Target Center in Minneapolis. UMD’s season ended with a .500 record, 16-16-4.

“Any time you lose it’s disappointing,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “The kids played hard over the weekend. I thought we deserved to win two games and we end up losing two games. Give credit to them because they played well defensively and capitalized on their opportunities. They’re special teams were better than ours and that was the difference.”

Junior co-captain Adam Krause added: “To lose like that is tough. I think we fought hard and gave it all we had. They got a couple breaks and that’s tough, but you have to give them credit.”

Justin Kovacs and Kenney Morrison scored as the former Central Collegiate Hockey Association club overcame a 3-2 deficit to begin the third period. Kovacs connected at 6:22 for his 13th of the season to tie the game and Morrison followed with his fourth of the season with senior Joe Basaraba sitting in the penalty box at 7:49.

“I thought we were good when we had to be good in the third period,” Murray said. “We managed the puck and created some rush opportunities and made them take some penalties.”

The Broncos were 2-for-4 with an extra attacker.

“We struggled all season to generate offense from our power play and tonight we got two goals from it — and, in my opinion, probably three,” Murray said about a disallowed first-period goal.

Sophomore center Tony Cameranesi started the night off much better than Friday’s 3-2 loss with his seventh goal of the season just 1:21 into the game off a pass from Justin Crandall. Cameranesi skated left to right in front of goalie Frank Slubowski — starting in place of Friday’s standout Lukas Hafner — and tucked the puck in for a 1-0 lead.

Krause batted in a Dan Molenaar rebound at 14:47 to give the Bulldogs a two-goal advantage, but the Broncos made the most of their one official shot during the period. Shane Berschbach took a pass from Chase Balisy and skated up the slot to beat senior goalie Aaron Crandall to the glove side for a power-play goal at 15:35.

The Broncos tied the score moments later — after Basaraba took another penalty — but Kovacs’ goal was waved off after officials ruled a video review showed Berschbach in the crease screening Crandall. That decision didn’t sit well with Murray, who was livid on the bench.

UMD owned a 12-1 shots-on-goal edge in the first and bumped that up to 16-1 before Balisy scored at the 5:25 mark on the Broncos’ second shot. Sheldon Dries skated behind the net and found an unguarded Balisy skating up the slot for the equalizer.

Basaraba put the Bulldogs ahead at 12:00 to set the stage for the final 20 minutes.

“They had a good game plan and played it to a ‘T’, Krause said. “They play a third-period game, a patient game. They know you’re not going to win a game in a minute or five minutes or 10 minutes. They play a consistent game and they do it well. They block shots with their necks and their face and everything. We probably hit them 100 times this weekend, but that’s what they had to do to win.”

  • UMD entered the evening 10-3 in home playoff games under Sandelin. The Bulldogs’ only previous playoff series defeat at home came in 1996 to Michigan Tech. The team entered the game a meager 5-9-3 at home this season.
  • The Bulldogs fell to 14-4-2 when scoring first and lost for the first time in 21 opportunities (17-1-3) when leading after two periods.
  • Broncos sophomore center Josh Pitt returned to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for accumulating three game misconducts this season.

Western Michigan 1-1-2—4

Minnesota Duluth 2-1-0—3

First period — 1. UMD, Tony Cameranesi 7 (Justin Crandall), 1:21; 2. UMD, Adam Krause 7 (Dan Molenaar, Dom Toninato), 14:47; 3. WMU, Shane Berschbach 15 (Chase Balisy, Dennis Brown), 15:35 (pp). Penalties — Andy Welinski, UMD (tripping), 8:12; Sheldon Dries, WMU (boarding), 10:40; Joe Basaraba, UMD (interference), 14:58; Basaraba, UMD (slashing), 16:10; Kenney Morrison, WMU (holding), 20:00.

Second period — 4. WMU, Balisy 13 (Dries, Mike Cichy), 5;25; 5. UMD, Basaraba 8 (Caleb Herbert, Austin Farley), 12:00. Penalties — Morrison, WMU (interference), 12:14; Morrison, WMU (roughing), 19:03.

Third period — 6. WMU, Justin Kovacs 13 (Berschbach, Balisy), 6:22; 7. WMU, Morrison 11 (Dennis Brown, Balisy), 7:49. Penalties — Basaraba, UMD (hooking), 7:06.

Shots on goal — Western Michigan 1-5-5—11; UMD 12-14-11—37. Goalies — Lukas Hafner, WM (37 shots, 34 saves); Aaron Crandall, UMD (11-7). Power plays — Western Michigan 2-of-4; UMD 0-of-4. Referees — Steve Patafie, Todd Anderson. Linesmen — Andy Dokken, Justin Hills. Att. — 4,633.