College hockey: Bulldogs head to North Dakota without top scorer

The good news for Minnesota Duluth's men's hockey team heading into this weekend's series with NCHC co-leader North Dakota is junior wing Kyle Osterberg returns to the lineup for the first time in a month.The bad news for the Bulldogs is second-l...

Austin Farley
Austin Farley

The good news for Minnesota Duluth’s men’s hockey team heading into this weekend’s series with NCHC co-leader North Dakota is junior wing Kyle Osterberg returns to the lineup for the first time in a month.
The bad news for the Bulldogs is second-leading scorer Austin Farley has been ruled out for the 7:37 p.m. game Friday and 7:07 p.m. rematch Saturday against the fourth-ranked Fighting Hawks at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.
Farley, a senior wing, and junior defenseman Dan Molenaar were both listed as week-to-week with upper-body injuries by UMD coach Scott Sandelin on Wednesday. While Molenaar has contributed only a goal and an assist in 17 games this year, Farley has posted a team-best 13 goals plus 13 assists in 27 games.
“It’s kind of a trade- off, you get one back and lose one,” Sandelin said, “but it’s good to have (Osterberg) back.”
Osterberg has missed the last eight games with what the team is citing as an upper-body injury. He last played in a 3-1 home loss to St. Cloud State on Jan. 15, leaving during the second period.
His offensive production has dipped every season since he finished third in team scoring as a freshman with 14 goals and 13 assists. He has just two goals and five assists in 20 games this season. He posted seven goals and 11 assists a year ago.
“Obviously I haven’t contributed to the scoresheet every night, but I feel like I’ve been playing really well,” Osterberg said. “I’m just doing the things Coach wants me to do. I thought I was doing really well on the penalty kill. I thought the line I was playing on at the time, we were doing really well and we were clicking.”
The Bulldogs (11-12-5 overall, 7-8-3-1 NCHC) were without Farley, Molenaar, Osterberg and freshman wing Parker Mackay the last time out - a 2-1 loss last Tuesday at home to Bemidji State. Sandelin said Mackay will be good to go this weekend against the Fighting Hawks (22-5-3, 13-4-1), who are tied with St. Cloud State (23-6-1, 13-4-1-1) atop the NCHC.
The Bulldogs are tied for fourth in the NCHC with Nebraska-Omaha (18-9-1, 8-9-1) with six games remaining in the regular season. The Mavericks currently hold the tiebreaker for the final first-round home playoff spot via their eight wins to UMD’s seven. Both teams play the Hawks and Huskies the next two weeks.
“The pressure is on them; it’s not on us,” Sandelin said of North Dakota. “We’re not expected to go in there and beat them, quite frankly.
“We’ve got to go in there with the right mindset as far as just relax and play. Don’t go in there feeling pressure to have to win a game. I think if we can do that, we’ll give ourselves a good chance.”
UMD women may get Stalder back
UMD women’s coach Maura Crowell is hopeful her team’s second-leading goal scorer in junior wing Lara Stalder will return from a lower-body injury this weekend in the Bulldogs’ regular-season series finale at St. Cloud State. The Huskies host the Bulldogs at 7:07 p.m. Friday and 3:07 p.m. Saturday at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
“She is skating with us. It’s looking good. It’s day-by-day,” Crowell said. “When she comes back, she’ll be back at 100 percent. That’s what we’re looking for.”
The Bulldogs (12-19-1, 9-16-1 WCHA) sit in sixth place, just three points back of the fifth-place Huskies (12-15-4, 8-14-4-3). UMD needs at least five of the six possible points to overtake St. Cloud State.
Stalder missed both games a week ago against Minnesota at Amsoil Arena - UMD’s final two home games of 2015-16. She has 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points in 29 games this season. The goals and points are career highs. One more assist will give her a career high in that category as well.
“It’s a big hit to the lineup,” Crowell said. “We’re limited with kids that have been here for a few years. We have a young team. When somebody like Stalder with her experience and her ability goes out, it’s a huge hurt to the lineup.”
Saints wrap up regular season
One week after hosting the No. 1 team in NCAA Division III men’s hockey, the 14th-ranked St. Scholastica men (14-6-3, 12-5-1 NCHA) play host to third-ranked Adrian College (19-3-1, 15-2-1) at 7 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday at Mars Lakeview Arena.
After losing 3-2 and tying 2-2 at home against St. Norbert College a week ago, the Saints are locked into second place in the NCHA North Division. The Saints will host either Milwaukee School of Engineering or Lawrence University on Wednesday at Mars Lakeview Arena in a one-game Harris Cup Playoffs quarterfinal. The winner would play at either Adrian or St. Norbert in a best-of-two plus mini-game format later that week.
As for the Saints women (7-13-2, 6-8-2), they are locked into the No. 4 seed in the four-team Slaats Cup Playoffs going into this weekend’s regular-season finale against Finlandia (0-22, 0-16) at 4 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday at Mars Lakeview.

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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