College men's hockey: Bulldogs pull off sweet sweep of North Dakota with 4-0 win
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- It's a good time to be a fan of the Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team, especially if you have friends who happen to cheer for the Bulldogs' top rivals -- North Dakota and Minnesota.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - It's a good time to be a fan of the Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team, especially if you have friends who happen to cheer for the Bulldogs' top rivals - North Dakota and Minnesota.
The NCHC-leading and fourth-ranked Bulldogs won their fifth in a row over the defending NCHC and NCAA champion Fighting Hawks on Saturday, 4-0 in front of a silent 11,924 fans at sold-out Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Saturday's victory, combined with a 5-3 win Friday night and a sweep of the Hawks in October in Duluth, gives UMD its first regular-season sweep of North Dakota in a four-game series.
"It's special what we did for us and the program," said UMD senior center, captain and Duluth native Dominic Toninato. "We took another step in the right direction and we keep getting better. It was a good 60 minutes of hockey tonight and we have to keep building."
The Bulldogs, who began their win streak over the Hawks in the semifinals of last season's NCHC Frozen Faceoff in Minneapolis, return to the Twin Cities this week for the North Star College Cup at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul where they open against the Gophers, who have lost six straight to UMD.
The Bulldogs head to St. Paul this week with a six-point lead over second-place Denver in the NCHC standings. The Pioneers - who have two games in hand on the Bulldogs - were the last team to sweep the Hawks in a four-game series back in 2009-10. The Pioneers also were the last team to win five straight against North Dakota between 2004-05.
"I thought we played a real good game tonight. We did some things a lot better. We managed the puck a lot better. We were more consistent over the three periods," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. "Everyone was in again. It was nice to see some guys continue to score and some guys that need to keep that going for us. I'm really happy with our performance, tough building to come into."
Freshman goaltender Hunter Miska finished with 29 saves on 29 shots on Saturday for his second shutout and fourth win in four games against the Hawks. He stopped 54-of-56 shots against North Dakota in October.
Freshman wing Riley Tufte, Toninato, senior defenseman Willie Raskob and sophomore wing Adam Johnson of Hibbing scored the Bulldogs' goals. Tufte, Toninato and Johnson all scored unassisted.
Toninato and Tufte both scored in the third with the captain juking out a couple Hawks defenders and senior goalie Cam Johnson for a shorthanded goal. Tufte later roofed his third goal of the weekend and fourth in four games one-on-one with Johnson.
"Our guys were firing on all cylinders tonight," Miska said. "We played a really good 200-foot game and I thought all 20 guys contributed really well tonight."
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period Saturday thanks to a North Dakota turnover and successful second power play of the night.
Johnson, with his 10th goal of the season, gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead less than three minutes in by intercepting a pass from Hawks sophomore defenseman Hayden Shaw. If this was a football game, Shaw's pass was the equivalent of an ill-advised pick-6 tossed from the end zone.
Raskob made it 2-0 at the 12:15 mark of the first, firing a clean shot from the point that skirted the left side of traffic en route to the back of the home net. It was just Raskob's third goal of the season and first since Oct. 14.
"It's a lot more comfortable for me being in the lead," Miska said. "I thought our guys took that in the right direction and we kept accelerating from there."
The Hawks made a push to tie the game in the second period, outshooting the Bulldogs 14-6, posting 10 straight shots on goal at one point.
North Dakota fans thought their team scored on a power play late in the second when a shot from the point was deflected in, but the referee closest to the net immediately waved off the goal and stuck with the call after video review.
The Hawks should have scored in the closing seconds of the second after sophomore wing Chris Wilkie made a move on Miska to put the freshman flat on the ice. Instead of putting the puck into an open net, Wilkie sent it off the crossbar.
The Hawks entered Saturday's game minus two of their three goal-scorers from Friday due to injuries to freshman forward Tyson Jost and sophomore forward Joel Janatuinen. Senior defenseman and captain Gage Ausmus was then declared out for the rest of the night during the second intermission, also due to an injury.
Minnesota Duluth............ 2-0-2-4
North Dakota.................... 0-0-0-0
First period - 1. UMD, Adam Johnson 10, 2:54; 2. UMD, Willie Raskob 3 (Riley Tufte, Karson Kuhlman), 12:15 (pp). Penalties - Rhett Gardner, UND (interference), 6:02; Gae Ausmus, UND (interference), 11:00.
Second period - No scoring. Penalties - Billy Exell, UMD (tripping), 5:53; Nick Wolff, UMD (hooking), 10:50; Johnny Simonson, UND (high sticking), 14:11; Brenden Kotyk, UMD (tripping), 17:29.
Third period - 3. UMD, Dominic Toninato 6, 2:07; 4. UMD, Riley Tufte 4, 13:23. Penalties - Kyle Osterberg, UMD (slashing), 1:43; Shane Gersich, UND (interference), 2:07; Austin Poganski, UND (boarding), 5:45; Raskob, UMD (tripping), 7:29.
Shots on goal - UMD 10-6-5-21; ND 8-14-7-29. Goalies - Hunter Miska, UMD (29 shots-29 saves); Cam Johnson, ND (21-17). Power plays - UMD 1-of-5; ND 0-of-5. Referees - Gino Binda, Tom Sterns. Linesmen - Andy Dokken, Tyler Liffrig. Att. - 11,924.