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UMD men's hockey: 233rd meeting between the Bulldogs, Michigan Tech will be the first in the NCAA tournament

The Bulldogs take on the Huskies at 2 p.m. Thursday in the NCAA regional semifinals in Loveland, Colorado.

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Minnesota Duluth’s Riley Tufte brings the puck around behind Michigan Tech’s goal during the second period of the 2017 Ice Breaker Tournament Championship at Amsoil Arena, won 4-3 by the Huskies. The two former WCHA rivals have met 232 times, but Thursday will be the first NCAA tournament game between the two schools.
Steve Kuchera / File / skuchera@duluthnews.com

LOVELAND, Colo. — Once rivals in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, Minnesota Duluth and Michigan Tech have met 232 times dating back to New Year’s Eve of 1952.

The only two teams the Bulldogs have played more in their history are Minnesota (236) and North Dakota (248).

The 233rd meeting between the Bulldogs and Huskies at 2 p.m. Thursday in the NCAA regional semifinals at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado, will be their first in the NCAA tournament, however.

UMD has run into both the Golden Gophers (most recently in 2015) and the Fighting Sioux/Hawks (duh … five OTs in Fargo last year) over the years in the tournament, but never the Huskies, as the two schools’ runs of postseason dominance are separated by decades.

Michigan Tech — which leads UMD in the all-time series 121-90-21 — made nine NCAA tournament appearances between 1956 and 1976, playing in seven NCAA title games and winning national championships in 1962, 1965 and 1975. They last went to the NCAA Frozen Four in 1981 at what was then known as the Duluth Arena.

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The 1981 Frozen Four in Duluth is also the last time the Huskies won an NCAA tournament game. After losing to Minnesota 7-2 in the semifinals, they topped rival Northern Michigan 5-2 in the third-place game.

Tech has made just four trips to the NCAA tournament since — counting this year’s yet-to-be determined appearance. They’ve lost their last three regional semifinals to St. Cloud State (2015), Denver (2017) and Notre Dame (2018), with the Fighting Irish and SCSU both winning in overtime.

The Bulldogs arrived in Loveland on Tuesday afternoon for their seventh-straight NCAA tournament appearance, and hoping to extend their run of four consecutive regional titles and Frozen Four berths to five.

UMD was riding a 10-game NCAA tournament winning streak — having won back-to-back national championships in 2018 and 2019 — when it lost 3-2 in overtime to eventual national champion Massachusetts in last year’s Frozen Four semifinals in Pittsburgh. The Bulldogs are 13-2 in the NCAA tournament going back to 2017, when their run of four consecutive Frozen Fours started, and 20-6 in the NCAA tournament since their first national championship run in 2011.

What else you need to know:

Thursday’s game pits brother vs. brother when Hermantown’s Eric and Darian Gotz go up against each other.

Eric, 23, is a senior defenseman for the Huskies who played for the Hawks from 2013-2016 before embarking on a two-year junior career with the Minnesota Wilderness in Cloquet. He has four goals and six assists for Tech in 34 games this season, down from the 20 points he scored as a sophomore and 14 as a freshman.

Darian, 21, is a sophomore defenseman for the Bulldogs who played for Hermantown from 2016-19. He also did a stint with the Wilderness in 2018-19 before moving to the Cedar Rapids Roughriders of the United States Hockey League in 2019-20. Darian has a goal and eight assists this year in 40 games after posting a single assist in 19 games as a freshman.

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  • The Bulldogs and Huskies last met during a regular season series in Houghton, Michigan, back on Oct. 12-13, 2018. UMD swept the series 2-1 and 5-2. Seniors now but freshmen then, forward Tanner Laderoute had two goals and Noah Cates had two assists. They are two of seven current Bulldogs still on the roster who played that weekend in Houghton, along with defensemen Louie Roehl, Matt Anderson and Hunter Lellig, and forwards Jesse Jacques and Kobe Roth.
  • Only one Husky remains on the roster from the team’s last NCAA tournament appearance in 2018 in Bridgeport, Connecticut — fifth-year senior forward Justin Misiak. The Huskies have one other player with NCAA tournament experience in fifth-year senior transfer Michael Karow, who played four seasons at Boston College before joining the Huskies this year. Karow and the Eagles lost 4-1 to SCSU last year in Albany in the regional final after Notre Dame had to withdraw because of COVID-19 protocols.

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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