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College men's hockey: Huskies blank Bulldogs to earn sweep

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin warned his team to stay out of the penalty box this weekend at St. Cloud State. He passed the warning on to the media on Wednesday and spouted it again Saturday after his team was swept.

"My thing was don't give them that many power plays," Sandelin said. "It's pretty simple."

The eighth-ranked Bulldogs did stay out of the penalty box for the most part Saturday afternoon, but the second-ranked Huskies still made UMD pay by scoring on their first two power plays of the night en route to a 5-0 victory in the NCHC-opening series for both schools at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

The Huskies (7-0 overall, 2-0 NCHC) used two shots by junior forwards Jacob Benson and Mikey Eyssimont on two power-play attempts to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. St. Cloud State went up 3-0 in the second via a short-handed goal from junior forward Robby Jackson.

The Huskies were 2-for-3 on power plays Saturday after going 2-for-7 in Friday's 5-3 win. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs (4-4-2, 0-2) finished the weekend 1-for-10 on the man-advantage, going 0-for-6 on Saturday.

"Special teams is huge," UMD junior forward Parker Mackay said. "There were a couple times we didn't clear pucks and it resulted in them putting it in the back of the net. The power play, giving up a short-handed goal, you can't win games doing mistakes like that and we made too many mistakes tonight."

Sophomore goaltender Hunter Shepard, making his fifth straight start, stopped 11 of 15 shots before being pulled 13:16 into the second period when senior forward Blake Winiecki's goal made it 4-0. Sophomore goalie Nick Deery made 10 saves in his first game action since Oct. 20, giving up just one goal early in his relief appearance.

Huskies freshman goalie David Hrenak of Slovakia made 29 saves for his first collegiate shutout.

UMD had won six straight games in St. Cloud over the three previous seasons prior to getting swept. UMD also entered the NCHC series on a three-game winning streak where it went 11-for-11 on penalty kills in wins over Merrimack and Maine.

But a power play as skilled as the Huskies was something UMD had yet to see this season. While Maine and Merrimack's power plays rank in the bottom half of NCAA Division I, the Huskies are one of the best in the nation, now at 32.4 percent after this weekend.

"They capitalized on the two chances they had there in the first. We started to do too much and got away from our game a little bit," UMD senior captain and forward Karson Kuhlman said. "Overall from the weekend, it's not like we played bad hockey. I think it's a learning lesson how tough our league is. It's a good eye opener for a lot of our guys."

While Kuhlman and his teammates refused to use it as an excuse, the elephant in the rink was the fact the Bulldogs were without five players most of the weekend, and all of them play on special teams.

Freshman defenseman Mikey Anderson was knocked out of action midway through Friday's loss after taking a second hit to the head. UMD went into the weekend minus senior center Avery Peterson, sophomore defenseman Jarod Hilderman, sophomore forward Joey Anderson and freshman forward Nick Swaney, who all went down either before or during the trip to Maine.

As of Saturday, Sandelin didn't have a timetable for any of the five to return, which means UMD could be in a similar situation when it returns home next weekend for a pair of 7:07 p.m. games Friday and Saturday against Western Michigan at Amsoil Arena.

"The second goal took a little wind out of our sails. The third goal, the short-handed goal they got took a little more life out," Sandelin said. "We learned another lesson. For a lot of our players, it was the first time against a really, really good team in a tough building. Hopefully they got some good experience out of that. It's a good learning process for all of us and we'll move on to next weekend."

• Sophomore defenseman Will Campion of Seaford, N.Y., is no longer with the UMD program, according to Sandelin. Campion chose to leave after appearing in just one game last season.

• Senior defenseman Nick McCormack was the lone spare healthy skater until Mikey Anderson's injury.

Minn. Duluth 0-0-0—0

St. Cloud State 2-3-0—5

First period — 1. SCSU, Jacob Benson 4 (Blake Winiecki. Mikey Eyssimont), 9:49 (pp); 2. SCSU, Eyssimont 2 (Benson, Jack Ahcan), 18:50 (pp). Penalties — Judd Peterson, SCSU (hooking), 5:47; Jade Miller, UMD (tripping), 8:47; Peter Krieger, UMD (holding), 17:36; Will Borgen, SCSU (cross checking), 19:12..

Second period — 3. SCSU, Robby Jackson 4, 10:57 (sh); 4. SCSU, Winiecki 1 (Borgen, Patrick Newell), 13:16; 5. SCSU, Jack Poehling 5 (Ahcan, Newell), 17:37. Penalties — Ryan Poehling, SCSU (elbowing), 9:46; Easton Brodzinski, SCSU (tripping), 13:55; Krieger, UMD (slashing), 14:09; Peterson, SCSU (cross checking), 18:58.

Third period — No scoring. Penalties — Will Hammer, SCSU (tripping), 2:41; Luke Jaycox, SCSU (roughing), 13:13; Jack Ahcan, SCSU (roughing), 13:13; Blake Young, UMD (roughing), 13:13; Sammy Spurrell, UMD (roughing), 13:13.

Shots on goal — UMD 7-13-9—29; SCSU 7-12-7—26. Goalies — Hunter Shepard, UMD (15 shots-11 saves); Nick Deery, UMD (11-10); David Hrenak, SCSU (29-29). Power plays — UMD 0-of-6; SCSU 2-of-3. Referees — Todd Anderson, Andy Thackaberry. Linesmen — Kevin Cassidy, Sterling Egan. Att. — 4,208.

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.

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