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College men's hockey: Bulldogs cap regular season with victory

Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin should be expecting a thank you basket this week from his alma mater, North Dakota. That's because the seventh-ranked Bulldogs capped the regular season with a 4-1 victory over No. 14 Nebraska-Omaha in NCHC p...

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Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth goaltender Hunter Shepard (32) stops a Nebraska-Omaha shot on goal Saturday at Amsoil Arena.

Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin should be expecting a thank you basket this week from his alma mater, North Dakota.

That’s because the seventh-ranked Bulldogs capped the regular season with a 4-1 victory over No. 14 Nebraska-Omaha in NCHC play Saturday before a crowd of 5,160 at Amsoil Arena to send the Mavericks packing for Grand Forks in the first round of next week’s league playoffs.

Omaha was in the driver’s seat Saturday to host a first-round playoff series after beating the Bulldogs 4-1 on Friday. Saturday’s loss to UMD opened the door for Sandelin’s former team and employer, North Dakota, to nab the fourth seed. The Fighting Hawks mustered two points via a 3-on-3 overtime win against St. Cloud State to avoid a trip to Duluth next week.

The third-seeded Bulldogs will host sixth-seeded Western Michigan in a best-of-three series at 7:07 p.m. Friday through next Sunday at Amsoil Arena. Two weeks ago, UMD swept the Broncos 8-0 and 9-1 in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“Every night you got to compete. You can’t turn it on and off,” sophomore Joey Anderson said about the turnaround from Friday to Saturday. “Last weekend at Western, we were flying all weekend long. We came out last night and didn’t have that. That was kind of the big message. It’s got to be there every night.”

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The Bulldogs jumped ahead in the second period via goals by senior wing Karson Kuhlman, freshman defenseman Scott Perunovich and Anderson.

Kuhlman, the captain out of Cloquet-Esko-Carlton, tied the game on a power play midway through the second. He quickly picked up a rebound that Omaha was unable to clear from the front of the crease and snapped the puck into the net for his 11th goal of the season.

Perunovich gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead 3 1/2 minutes later on a solo breakaway in which the Hibbing native had so much time and space, he looked behind him to see where everyone was, paused and then went in on net to score.

The goal came at the end of a long shift for Perunovich, and seconds after sophomore goaltender Hunter Shepard made a tremendous post-to-post toe save to keep the game tied 1-1.

“I was pretty gassed and I was looking for Joey, who was the high guy,” said Perunovich, who finished the regular season with 31 points. “I was going to try and get it off my stick as soon as possible, but he was tied up. So I just decided to try and shoot and it paid off.”

Anderson made it 3-1 with less than three minutes to play in the second by taking advantage of another Omaha turnover in its own zone. He later picked up his 10th goal of the season by scoring on an empty net.

The Mavericks took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission on the first collegiate goal by freshman wing Martin Sundberg.

Omaha, whose power play led the nation at 27 percent to start the weekend, finished 0-for-7 on Saturday after going 1-for-4 on Friday.

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Sandelin credited assistant coach Jason Herter for making the necessary adjustments on the penalty kill to shut down Omaha.

Sandelin also credited his captain for jump-starting the team Saturday.

“I thought our penalty killers did a great job. We made some adjustments, we were more aggressive,” Sandelin said. “I thought our captain was outstanding tonight. I thought he was the one who got us going with his will, his goal, a couple of his shifts in the second period. We looked like we were playing afraid to lose the game. We were treading on thin ice there, but he got us going in the second period.”

  • The Bulldogs received a verbal commitment last week from Tanner Laderoute, a 20-year-old forward from Edmonton who is currently playing for the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Laderoute, who was originally committed to Alaska-Anchorage, leads the Oilers in scoring with 31 goals and 36 assists in 50 games. He totaled 31 goals and 37 assists in 72 games a year ago. The Okotoks assistant captain will join the Bulldogs in the fall of 2018.

 
Neb.-Omaha 1-0-0-1
Minn. Duluth 0-3-1-4 First period - 1. UNO, Martin Sundberg 1 (Luke Nogard, Tristan Keck), 16:49. Penalties - Avery Peterson, UMD (tripping), 0:47; Nick Wolff, UMD (interference), 3:56; Joel Messner, UNO (interference), 14:14; Riley Tufte, UMD (interference), 19:18.

Second period - 2. UMD, Karson Kuhlman 11 (Tufte), 9:52 (pp); 3. UMD, Scott Perunovich 9 (Peter Krieger, Hunter Shepard), 13:22; 4. UMD, Joey Anderson 9, 17:25. Penalties - Dean Stewart, UNO (interference), 8:56; Peterson, UMD (tripping), 13:36; Tufte, UMD (slashing), 18:37; Blake Young, UMD (roughing), 19:59; Zach Jordan, UNO (roughing), 19:59.

Third period - 5. UMD, J. Anderson (Mikey Anderson, Perunovich), 18:00 (en, pp). Penalties - J. Anderson, UMD (elbowing), 2:23; Messner, UNO (slashing), 4:46; Tufte, UMD (hooking), 5:21; Ryan Jones, UNO (cross checking), 10:34; Tristan Keck, UNO (tripping), 17:32.

Shots on goal - UNO 7-6-6-19; UMD 12-13-14-39. Goalies - Evan Weninger, UNO (38 shots-35 saves); Hunter Shepard, UMD (19-18). Power plays - UNO 0-of-7; UMD 2-of-5. Referees - Ian Croft, Timm Walsh. Linesmen - Sterling Egan, Jeff Schultz. Att. - 5,160.

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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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