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Broncos deny UMD again; Western Michigan earns five points during weekend series

After being swept at home in the opening round of the NCHC playoffs last season by Western Michigan, Minnesota Duluth was out for a bit of revenge this weekend against the Broncos.

Bulldogs
Alex Iafallo of Minnesota Duluth scores a goal against Lukas Hafner and Sheldon Dries, both of Western Michigan, during Saturday’s game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)
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After being swept at home in the opening round of the NCHC playoffs last season by Western Michigan, Minnesota Duluth was out for a bit of revenge this weekend against the Broncos.

The Bulldogs didn’t get it and now must wait another seven weeks until the rematch March 6-7 in Michigan.

“We played them six times last year and it seems like we take it to them at their rink and they give it to us at our place,” UMD senior wing Justin Crandall said. “We’re excited to get another crack at them late in the year for a little payback.”

Western Michigan scored twice on power plays and took advantage of a Minnesota Duluth turnover in its own zone in the third period to win 4-2 in an NCHC game Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 6,873 fans at Amsoil Arena.

Combined with the shootout win Friday, the Broncos (10-9-3 overall, 3-6-3-3 NCHC) took five-of-six league points from a No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (13-7-1, 8-5-1) team that was hoping to retake the NCHC lead. UMD trailed first-place Nebraska-Omaha by just one point heading into the night.

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“Obviously to get one point, not the way you like it,” UMD senior captain Adam Krause said. “Aside from a period here, a period there, I thought we didn’t play bad. I thought they are a tough team to play against. They are the type of team in the playoffs you don’t want to play. They are well-coached, big bodies, they play the right way. Obviously we wanted to get more points.”

Bulldogs senior defenseman Andy Welinski turned the puck over in the defensive zone to junior wing Colton Hargrove, who beat freshman goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo for the game-winner with 9:22 to play. Hargrove later banked in an empty-net goal off the boards to clinch the win.

Western Michigan took a 1-0 lead with a Bulldog in the penalty box for a second night in a row. A tripping penalty by sophomore defenseman Carson Soucy led to junior wing Nolan LaPorte scoring his second goal of the weekend midway through the first period.

The Broncos’ second power-play goal came from sophomore defenseman Taylor Fleming with junior defenseman Willie Corrin in the box. Fleming scored his first collegiate goal 7:55 into the third after a Bulldog clearing attempt hit a linesman, allowing the Broncos to keep the pressure on an already exhausted UMD penalty kill and go up 2-1.

“Call it a lucky break for them because I thought our guys were doing a good job until then,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said.

“You create your own breaks. ... This was a different style team. We knew it going in. We knew it was going to be difficult. They make it difficult on every team. Tonight they got a couple bounces that went their way and they won the hockey game. Otherwise it was probably headed to overtime again.”

Bulldogs sophomore wing Alex Iafallo tied the game at 1-1 with less than four minutes to play in the first period on a breakaway, using his backhand to beat junior goaltender Lukas Hafner for his fifth goal of the season.

UMD junior center Tony Cameranesi tied the game at 2-2 midway through the third. Brenden Kotyk’s initial blast was stopped, but senior wing Justin Crandall was able to get the rebound past Hafner and Cameranesi poked the puck over the goal line.

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“You’re not going to get great chances against this team when you get them you have to bear down and we didn’t do that,” Sandelin said. “That’s three games in a row. We’ve had plenty of opportunities.

“With this team you have to earn it. You have to get goals like Crandall (and Cameranesi) did where it barely gets over the goal line but you have got to get your nose in there and got to get into the tough areas. We have to get back to that.”

  • The NCHC suspended UMD sophomore center and leading scorer Dominic Toninato for Saturday’s game after the former Duluth East Greyhound was assessed a five-minute major for kneeing at 13:31 of the first period of Friday’s 2-2 tie. The suspension is part of the league’s supplemental discipline policy. The league also suspended Nebraska-Omaha senior defenseman Brian O’Rourke two games after he made direct contact to the head of a Colorado College player Friday.

 
Western Michigan    1-0-3-4

Minnesota Duluth    1-0-1-2

First period - 1. WMU, Nolan LaPorte 9 (Colton Hargrove, Sheldon Dries), 9:27 (pp); 2. UMD, Alex Iafallo 5 (Adam Krause, Cal Decowski), 16:44. Penalties - Taylor Fleming, WMU (holding), 4:53; Carson Soucy, UMD (tripping), 8:55; Adam Krause, UMD (roughing), 12:53; Sheldon Dries, WMU (slashing), 16:44; Fleming, WMU (embellishment), 19:40; Iafallo, UMD (hooking), 19:40.
Second period - No scoring. Penalties - Willem Nong-Lambert, WMU (slashing), 2:56; Josh Pitt, WMU (cross checking), 4:54; Team, UMD (too many men on the ice), 10:32; Frederik Tiffels, WMU (holding), 12:04.
Third period - 3. WMU, Taylor Fleming 1 (Aidan Muir), 7:55 (pp); 4. UMD, Tony Cameranesi 7 (Justin Crandall, Brenden Kotyk), 9:39; 5. WMU, Colton Hargrove 8, 10:38. Penalties - Willie Corrin, UMD (slashing), 6:02; Willie Corrin, UMD (slashing), 6:02.
Shots on goal - WMU 15-5-7-27; UMD 9-8-10-27. Goalies - Lukas Hafner (27 shots-25 saves); Kasimir Kaskisuo (27-23). Power plays - WMU 2-of-4; UMD 0-of-5. Referees - Nick Krebsbach, Timm Walsh. Linesmen - Nick Biondich, Jeff Schultz. A - 6,873.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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