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College men's hockey: Bulldogs sacrifice for good of the team

The puck was coming straight at Kyle Schmidt. The Minnesota Duluth hockey forward was down on one knee while killing a penalty a week ago at the DECC as North Dakota defenseman Chay Genoway launched a shot on goal. Schmidt knew his job was to get...

The puck was coming straight at Kyle Schmidt.

The Minnesota Duluth hockey forward was down on one knee while killing a penalty a week ago at the DECC as North Dakota defenseman Chay Genoway launched a shot on goal.

Schmidt knew his job was to get in the way, and the puck crushed the upper right corner of his face mask, bending the bars in at least an inch. His forehead was cut and there was enough blood to cloud his vision as he looked for UMD's bench.

"It came right for my eye and it came so fast that I had no way to get out of the way," Schmidt said this week. "And the way the game is played, you're supposed to stay there and take it. Our mentality is that we play a punishing sport and you learn to play through those things. It's part of the game.

"That was a pretty powerful shot, and a painful, shocking moment. I was loopy for a few seconds and was hoping someone would come and help me."

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The sophomore from Hermantown left Friday's game, in the second period of a 2-2 tie, received seven stitches and was back for Saturday's 3-1 victory.

A handful of other individual efforts in the series, noted by UMD's coaching staff, gave the Bulldogs a lift in earning three points in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The Bulldogs (5-4-4) hope to continue those efforts in today's 7:37 p.m. game against No. 18 St. Cloud State (8-5) at the DECC.

"There are times when you have to sacrifice your body. Some might be little plays, but they can make the difference in a game and can become contagious," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said.

Also from last weekend -- UMD's Nick Kemp blocked a shot headed for an open UMD net; Chad Huttel passed a puck out of the defensive zone knowing he'd take a heavy hit; and Mike Connolly got run over on a penalized check and stood up to the offender.

Sandelin says he's been disappointed in UMD's effort only once in 13 games, a 4-1 home loss to Wisconsin on Nov. 15. The Bulldogs followed that with the North Dakota series, aided by four power-play goals, putting the Bulldogs first among WCHA teams at 20.2 percent.

Saturday's win broke a five-game winless streak.

"We knew we had to come out firing on all cylinders. We needed that for our confidence," said Schmidt. "We can't afford to be lackadaisical.

"Our specials teams showed they can do the job when we need them. That's what had been letting us down."

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Huskies on streak

Since losing to UMD a month ago, St. Cloud State has gone 5-1 by outscoring opponents 23-7. The only loss was 1-0 at home to Wisconsin last Saturday. Junior goalie Jase Weslosky (.933 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average) has been getting help from a developing defensive corps.

"We've now got some size and strength [in defensemen] that's an improvement from the last few years," St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. "We've been up and down this season, but the last three weeks have been much better."

Related Topics: BULLDOG SPORTSHOCKEY
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