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College men's hockey preview: Western Michigan at Minnesota Duluth

No. 18 Western Michigan (5-3-1) at No. 12 UMD (4-4-2)

What: NCHC series

When: 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Amsoil Arena

Series: The Bulldogs lead 13-7-1

Coaches: Andy Murray, in his seventh season at Western Michigan, is 108-100-33; Scott Sandelin, in his 18th season at UMD, is 319-288-84

TV/radio: My9/KDAL-AM 610 and KDAL-FM 103.9

Internet: (audio); (video)

Twitter: @mattwellens

Western Michigan update: The Broncos opened NCHC play a week ago by sweeping Denver, the defending conference and national champion, 6-5 and 7-4 in Kalamazoo, Mich. Both nights the Broncos came from behind to win, scoring two goals in the final 1:12 on Friday and rallying from a 3-0 deficit Saturday. Last year's All-NCHC rookie team goaltender, Ben Blacker (.906 save percentage/2.61 goals-against average), was yanked from the net Friday after giving up four goals on 19 shots, then came on in relief Saturday to get the win stopping eight of nine shots. Junior forward Colt Conrad (7 goals, 8 assists, 15 points) is third in the country in scoring. Conrad's linemates, sophomores Wade Allison (6-8—14) and Dawson DiPietro (5-6—11), are also off to hot starts. The Broncos average 3.89 goals per game despite just a 19.2 percent conversion rate on power plays.

UMD update: The Bulldogs, who were swept at St. Cloud State last week to open conference play, finished 3-2 against the Broncos a year ago, winning the final meeting between the schools in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals. Since the two became NCHC rivals, UMD is 9-7-1 against the Broncos. The Bulldogs were without four players Friday in St. Cloud and five on Saturday. Those five — Avery Peterson, Jarod Hilderman, Joey Anderson, Nick Swaney and Mikey Anderson — have accounted for 36 percent of UMD's scoring this season. Peterson, a senior forward, and Hilderman, a sophomore defenseman, will be available this weekend, but brothers Mikey Anderson and Joey Anderson are doubtful and Swaney has been ruled out. Minus key offensive contributors, UMD's scoring offense has slipped to last among its NCHC rivals, tied with Colorado College at the bottom at 2.80 goals per game. Sophomore wing Riley Tufte, the team's leader in goals (5) and points (8), was held to a single assist against the top-ranked Huskies. Tufte's 44 shots on goal rank second in the nation.

Quote: "They go to the net hard, they always have. That's not going to change, so to me it's going to be who wins the net-front game. We've got to do a much better job than we did last weekend of getting inside the dots and getting into the net area, the blue paint. We've got to defend better in our end." — Sandelin

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

(218) 723-5317