UMD men's bubble burst by Mankato

The UMD men's hockey team opened the season with two wins over nationally ranked teams in Omaha on Oct. 12 and 13, and scored eight goals over those two games and allowed just four.

The UMD men's hockey team opened the season with two wins over nationally ranked teams in Omaha on Oct. 12 and 13, and scored eight goals over those two games and allowed just four.
Six days later, when they opened their WCHA schedule at the DECC against Minnesota State-Mankato, they scored the same eight goals in two games, but allowed 10. They were swept by the Mavericks, losing 6-5 on Friday night and 4-3 on Saturday.
The solid play of opening weekend turned into sloppy play at times during the six periods with Mankato and cost them four WCHA points. "We had a good first period, came out flat in the second, and found ourselves playing catch-up again. We certainly had a lot of chances," said UMD Hockey Coach Scott Sandelin.
He was satisfied with how his team played in the opening period on Saturday night. "The games aren't won playing 30 or 40 minutes, you've got to play 60. I felt if we could have played 60 minutes the way we did in the first period, we probably would have won the game. But we let them back in by not playing like we did in the first period."
The Hibbing native added, "We just need to strive for more consistency in a lot of areas. We saw some good things, we generated a lot of offensive chances, and we did play better defensively then we did (Friday night). But we still have those lapses, and those lapses proved to be our nemesis on the weekend. And those are things you've got to learn from."
While UMD dropped to 0-2 in the WCHA and 2-2 overall, it did outshoot Mankato for the weekend 86 to 56.
Mankato Head Coach Troy Jutting is now 4-0 vs. UMD, but the UMD second year head coach sees a similar team to his when both are on the ice.
"To me it came down to who got the breaks, certainly they buried their chances when they had them," said Sandelin. He added, "We had chances, it was a good hockey game, and it was a good hockey weekend. And we're going to see a lot of those type of battles in this league. If we're in a lot of those like I said, we're going to find ways to win. I like the character on this team. Once some of our younger guys get some games under their belt, we've got good leadership from our seniors, and they played extremely well this weekend. It's just the little things we need to keep working on."
One of those leaders Coach Sandelin was talking about was junior center Jon Francisco from Hermantown. The former Hawk opened the scoring for the Bulldogs on Saturday early in the first period and won a race to a loose puck in the second and skated in on a break away to beat back-up goaltender Jon Volp low into the corner to tie the game at 3-3. For Francisco, they were his first and second goals of the year.
With about two minutes left in the second, Francisco was denied the hat trick when his shot near the side of the goal hit the pipe. The former Hermantown baseball and football star hit the pipe again in the third, with about 12 minutes left in the game during a power play. He would gladly turn-in the goals for wins, if that was possible. "We're still young, we're getting better, of course we would like to come out of here with at least one win," Francisco said. He added, "It was a good night for myself, but like I said I would trade it all just for some wins on the board and get this club rolling."
The Bulldogs were off to a great start Saturday, leading 2-0 after one period. Francisco said, "We played very well. We had lapses, and in this league that just can't happen. You have to play a full 60 minutes. We have a great team, we can't go anywhere but up."
The Dogs gave up three straight goals in the second period to fall behind 3-2. On one of those, former Superior Spartan Tom Nelson turned the puck over to Mankato, and they scored a power-play goal. Afterward, Nelson put the blame on himself, when in reality he was just trying to kill time.
"We played well in the first period, in the second period we had a mental lapse. I could be blamed for that 'cause I threw out the puck to them, and they got a power-play goal from that, and it kind of went downhill from there." He said, "I should know better. Once they scored it kind of put a halt on everything, and they took it to us in the second period. That's where we lost the game."
Nelson, a senior, knows they let Saturday's game slip away. "We played well. We played well enough to win, but the bounces didn't go our way."
Andy Reierson was the other Bulldog scorer on Saturday. Tim Jackman also had two goals on Saturday for Mankato, and his second turned out to be the game winner with 6:45 in the third period.
Eric Pateman started in net for the Mavericks on Saturday, but suffered a shoulder injury in the second period and was replaced by freshman Jon Volp.
For the second straight week the Bulldogs started former Superior Spartan Rob Anderson on Friday and started former Duluth East star Adam Coole on Saturday.
UMD will be back at home this weekend when they take on RPI on Friday and Saturday nights. Both games start at 7:05 p.m. This will be the fifth meeting between the two teams with the series tied at 2-2.
UMD was ranked 10th in the nation in the Division I men's hockey poll going into the Mankato series. The two losses dropped them out of the top 10.
But when it comes time to talk about the game, the Bulldogs didn't make excuses, duck the questions nor the responsibility. That makes them the top-ranked team in the nation in the honesty poll.

Tom Hansen is sports director for KBJR-TV News 6.

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