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Bulldogs open 'Sandelin Era' with 9-1 outburst

The Scott Sandelin Era of UMD hockey got off to a bold, free-wheeling start Sunday night, in a 9-1 exhibition romp over the University of Regina, and for a while it almost looked too free-wheeling.

The Scott Sandelin Era of UMD hockey got off to a bold, free-wheeling start Sunday night, in a 9-1 exhibition romp over the University of Regina, and for a while it almost looked too free-wheeling.
The Bulldogs jumped ahead 4-0 in the first period, moving the puck crisply, skating hard and jumping at chances with eagerness. Repeatedly, one of the UMD defenseman zoomed in from the blue line to get a scoring chance as well.
"Yeah," said Sandelin. "Mark Strobel came down from upstairs and said, 'Did you tell those guys to go in like that?'"
Sandelin laughed. He had not told the defensemen to gamble offensively, but he didn't mind, either, that the Bulldogs -- returning veterans and newcomers alike -- seemed to play with intensity to exorcise the reputation of not being able to score.
In fact, a team that spent the last two years unable to score on purpose scored on Sunday on purpose, by accident, by hard work and by opportunistic strokes of luck. Jim Murphy, a freshman center from St. Paul Johnson by way of Waterloo in the USHL, scored two goals, while his linemates, Jon Francisco and Judd Medak, scored a goal each, and Francisco added three assists for good measure. Other goals came from veterans such as Ryan Homstol, Nate Anderson and Jesse Fibiger, and rookies such as Jay Hardwick.
"There were a lot of positives, I thought," said Sandelin, after his first game as head coach since taking over for Mike Sertich. "I thought all three goalies played well, and our new guys came through with some goals. It was also good that some of the 'old guys' got some goals. Sometimes the game wasn't all that free-wheeling, but we got to work on our power play and penalty killing."
The Bulldogs scored five power-play goals and a sixth just after a power play expired before a crowd that might have been curious to see the new team under the new coach. The game drew a crowd of 2,821, undoubtedly affected by the undefeated Vikings football game on home television, and it was the only chance the Bulldogs have as a dress-rehearsal before the upcoming weekend's WCHA opening series at Minnesota. Regina had played 10 games before coming to Duluth, including games in the Cougars' league at Manitoba Friday and Saturday.
But having not played did not slow the Bulldogs. Captain Derek Derow was held out of the game to fully recover from minor knee surgery, and Drew Otten was among the scratches, which meant the previously light-scoring Bulldogs opened without their top two returning goal-scorers. They responded by outshooting Regina 44-19 and swarmed at the Cougars from the outset. The hustling, aggressive 'Dogs were held 0-0 for almost a full 10 minutes, then jumped to a 4-0 lead on goals by Homstol and Nate Anderson, both on power plays, and Medak and freshman defenseman Hardwick barely a minute apart later in the session.
None of the goals was what you'd call picturesque, but the early outburst was a promising sign. Homstol scored after rushing up the right side, and his attempt to chip a shot seemed to bounce, off-speed, and fooled goaltender Graham Cook at 9:46. Nate Anderson knocked in a loose puck at 14:27. Medak then went hard to the net to convert a blocked shot by Beau Geisler into the third goal, at 17:01. Hardwick, a freshman from Warroad who is the grandson of former long-time Warroad coach Dick Roberts, stepped up for a loose puck and carried deep on the left, and when he tried to pass to the crease, the puck glanced in off a Regina defenseman at 18:07.
Sophomore Rob Anderson, the incumbent in goal based on experience gained last season, was flawless in the first period, although a 14-4 shot barrage kept the puck at the far end of the DECC rink most of his period.
Sophomore Jason Gregoire had more business in the first six minutes than Rob Anderson had the whole first period, as the Cougars played a much more spirited second period. Murphy, another Bulldog freshman, made it 5-0 with a spin-around shot on a rebound midway through the period, before Regina broke through on a power play at 13:42.
"We had a nice rush, and I missed the net," said Murphy. "Our line had two rebounds, and I knew I had to keep it low and get it on net for a rebound."
Instead, it went in. Nathan Strueby got the Regina goal, winding up for a big slapshot from the right boards, but UMD, outshooting Regina 13-10 in the second period, had a 5-1 lead.
Adam Coole, a freshman from Duluth East, got the third period, and immediately benefited when Francisco knocked in another goal from the crease at 1:19, and another by Fibiger at 3:44 -- both coming on power plays.
The obviously untried power play continued to function well later in the final period, as the Cougars continued a steady tour of the penalty box. While two men up, Nelson smacked in a rebound at 11:40 to make it 8-1, and Murphy got his second goal of his first collegiate game at 13:22, just three seconds after a power play had expired.
"I got the second one on a nice pass from Francisco in the corner," said Murphy. "He and I and Judd had worked the puck in low, Judd cycled the puck to Frannie, and he made a nice pass to me. It took me two tries to knock it in."
However, it did go in. Everything went in for the Bulldogs in the game -- the perfect start to a new regime.

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