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College hockey: UMD to open NCHC play without top scorer

Sixth-ranked Minnesota Duluth opens NCHC play this weekend, and they'll do it minus its senior center, assistant captain and leading scorer Tony Cameranesi.

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Tony Cameranesi
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Sixth-ranked Minnesota Duluth opens NCHC play this weekend, and they’ll do it minus its senior center, assistant captain and leading scorer Tony Cameranesi.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound speedster from Plymouth, Minn., has been ruled out with an upper-body injury for 7:07 p.m. games Friday and Saturday at No. 8 Nebraska-Omaha, but Bulldogs men’s hockey coach Scott Sandelin said he hopes Cameranesi can return the following week when UMD hosts Denver at Amsoil Arena.
“The nice thing is he can skate,” Sandelin said. “We need some guys to step up. We’ll change some lines around and we’ll see how those work.”
Cameranesi, who has two goals and team-highs of six assists and eight points, has suffered a bump or bruise in three of UMD’s four weekends of play this season, hurting his knee the opening weekend against Bemidji State and his shoulder after scoring a goal at Notre Dame two weeks ago. He didn’t miss a shift, let alone a game, either time, though.
Cameranesi was forced to leave Saturday’s 6-3 nonconference home loss to Massachusetts-Lowell early in the third period, however, after making a check. He left the bench for the locker room and never returned. He practiced Wednesday, but was limited.
The Bulldogs encountered a similar injury situation last year when senior Adam Krause of Hermantown broke his wrist five games into the season. The injury came just before November and the Bulldogs ended up going 6-2 minus their captain.
UMD was 3-3 last year heading into November, and enters conference play 3-2-2 this season.
“The good thing from Tony’s side is it doesn’t look long term like Krause’s was,” Sandelin said. “We hope to get him back. It gives some other guys more ice time, more opportunity and we hope those guys can step up and do the job. Hopefully, we can have a month like November last year. It was a big month for us and kick-started us after going .500 in the month of November.”
MAVS HUMBLED AT  WESTERN MICHIGAN
Nebraska-Omaha began conference play on the road a week ago at Western Michigan, losing 4-2 and 6-1 to the Broncos.
Omaha went into the weekend ranked No. 2 by United States College Hockey Online and No. 1 by USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine, having gone 6-0 to start the year in nonconference play.
“Three out of our four series have been on the road,” Omaha coach Dean Blais said about the start of the season. “I think Western has a better team than it did last year, but I think we were a little fatigued.”
The Mavericks returned their top 10 scorers from last year’s team that reached the Frozen Four, but not star goaltender Ryan Massa. Junior Kirk Thompson and freshman Evan Weninger did a fine job the first three weeks filling Massa’s skates with Thompson posting a .918 save percentage and 2.33 goals-against average, while Weninger led the league with a .980 save percentage and 0.68 GAA.
Those stats took a hit last week, though after Thompson allowed four goals on 25 shots Friday and Weninger was pelted for six goals on 37 shots Saturday.
“Our goaltenders were a big reason we won the first six games and they were a big part of why we didn’t win the last two games,” Blais said.
HILLTOPPER LEADS  HUSKIES TO 6-2 START
At NCHC Media Day in September, St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko couldn’t stop raving about the offseason Duluth Marshall graduate Judd Peterson was having.
Early on, it appears the Duluth native’s offseason efforts have paid off. Peterson has a team-high five goals plus an assist for six points, eight games into the season for a No. 10-ranked Huskies team that is 6-2 overall and 2-0 in the NCHC after a home sweep of Miami.
Peterson’s five goals puts him in a five-way tie for second in the league in goals scored ― tied with Duluth native Jake Randolph of Omaha ― behind Omaha junior Austin Ortega, who has seven.
“We’re really excited about how he came back in tremendous shape, off-the-charts in his testing,” Motzko said about Peterson. “He’s always been a fast skater. He’s noticeably taken a big step in his offseason training. Moving forward, that’s a great sign.”
NO. 1 NORTH DAKOTA RIDES  THIRD-STRING GOALIE TO TOP
In Grand Forks, the goaltending situation right now is as competitive as the voting for the school’s new nickname thanks to third-stringer Matt Hrynkiw, who has backstopped North Dakota to a 6-0-2 start and the No. 1 ranking in both national polls.
The junior walk-on goalie wasn’t even in the starting picture when the season started, but freshman Matej Tomek of Slovakia suffered a preseason injury and sophomore Cam Johnson went down three games into the regular season.
That opened the door for Hrynkiw, who wasn’t expected to compete for the starting job during the preseason. In five starts and a relief appearance on Oct. 16, he has posted five wins, a tie, two shutouts, a .942 save percentage and 1.48 GAA. Hrynkiw stopped 48 of the 50 shots he faced a week ago at Colorado College to open NCHC play.
First-year North Dakota coach Brad Berry said Hrynkiw will start both nights this weekend in a nonconference home series against Wisconsin and could continue to start over Tomek and Johnson when the scholarship goalies become healthy.
“Anytime you do the job you’re called on and you do it with confidence, you earn a right to keep playing in the net,” Berry said. “We have players of varying degree of scholarships but at the end of the day, it’s about accountability and doing the job and a team-first mentality.”

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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