College men's hockey: Bulldogs tie Tigers, lose ground in NCHC title race

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- If second-place Minnesota Duluth is unable to close the two-point gap with NCHC-leading Denver over the next two weeks, there will be at least one positive to take from missing out on a regular-season conference title.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - If second-place Minnesota Duluth is unable to close the two-point gap with NCHC-leading Denver over the next two weeks, there will be at least one positive to take from missing out on a regular-season conference title.

UMD won’t have to see Colorado College again in 2016-17.

Just like the first three games, the last-place Tigers didn’t make it easy for the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs on Saturday at World Arena as the teams fought to a 2-2 draw for the second time this season.

UMD senior wing Alex Iafallo scored in the first round of the sudden-death shootout to give UMD a much-needed extra point in the standings and five out of six total points on the weekend.

The Bulldogs were looking for more than that. They wanted - and maybe even needed - a sweep of the seven-win Tigers.


Penalties - 12 total by the Bulldogs - derailed all that, however, allowing Denver to increase its lead over the Bulldogs by a point with four regular season games remaining.

Iafallo, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing the Tigers again in the first round of the NCHC playoffs, and not just because it would mean UMD won the NCHC’s Penrose Cup.

The Tigers are an obstacle UMD needs to overcome.

“They are definitely a challenge,” Iafallo said. “They’ve had our number this whole year. Having them at home would be a great challenge for us. I think we can make that happen and get the league title. That’d be a huge accomplishment, but we have a lot of work to do.”

UMD (19-5-6 overall, 13-4-2 NCHC) needed a late power-play goal Friday to beat the Tigers 2-1 after tying 2-2 and losing 2-1 to Colorado College (7-20-3, 3-14-3) on Jan. 6-7 in Duluth. UMD was unbeaten in nine straight against the Tigers going into the 2016-17 season.

On Saturday, it was the Tigers scoring late. Sophomore defenseman Cole McCaskill tied the game at 2-2 with 1:58 remaining in regulation to force overtime.

“You could feel it on the bench that the guys were believing that we could tie this game and then we had to kill a penalty in the last minute of regulation,” said Colorado College coach Mike Haviland, whose team outshot UMD 39-24. “There were a lot of ups and downs so I am proud we stuck with it.”

The Bulldogs’ special teams staked the team to a 2-0 lead in the opening two minutes Saturday and then was forced to kill off 10 Tigers power plays, including a major that extended into the five-minutes of 3-on-3 play after UMD senior defenseman Carson Soucy was ejected for contact to the head with seven seconds remaining in overtime.


Senior center and captain Dominic Toninato of Duluth scored on the power play 58 seconds into the game and Iafallo - who assisted on Toninato’s goal - made it 2-0 on a short-handed breakaway at 1:47 of the first.

“I’m disappointed,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “I didn’t like how we played the last 40 minutes at all. As far as our discipline, it was probably as undisciplined as I’ve seen our team. I really liked our first period. We came out and did exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to get a lead. I thought everyone was in it. Then all the penalties took away all the flow.

“We were rolling pretty good in the first period … and just the last 40-minutes, plus the overtime, it felt like we were in the box the whole time. You’re not going to win many games that way.”

UMD freshman defenseman Joey Anderson, charging into the home zone, drew a cross-checking call on Tigers junior defenseman Teemu Kivihalme 11 seconds into the game, leading to the Toninato goal. It was Anderson in the Friday win who drew the penalty that led to the game-winning goal by sophomore center Adam Johnson. The penalty was against Kivihalme.

The Kivihalme penalty 11 seconds into Saturday’s game proved to be a sign of things to come. The first period alone saw UMD whistled for three violations and Colorado College called for two penalties. Each team picked up a penalty in the opening and closing two minutes of the first.

Things only escalated in the second period with seven penalties - one a 10-minute misconduct on Kivihalme - four of which were on UMD. The last penalty of the period, a hooking violation by UMD senior defenseman Willie Raskob, led to the Tigers’ first goal of the night.

Taking a pass from sophomore forward and Cloquet native Westin Michaud in the closing seconds of the second period, senior Matt Hansen scored on the Tigers’ seventh power play of the night to make it 2-1 going into the third period.

The Tigers finished 1-for-10 on power plays while taking eight penalties for 24 minutes. UMD was 1-for-6 with the man-advantage after being called for 12 penalties, worth 35 minutes.


“The penalties halted our momentum,” Iafallo said. “Going into playoffs, we have to work on overcoming that. Hopefully we are more disciplined. We don't want to give up that many power plays. That shouldn’t be happening.”

  • Denver maintained its NCHC lead Saturday via a 5-2 victory over Miami in Oxford, Ohio, completing the weekend sweep. The RedHawks visit Duluth on Thursday and Friday this week in the final regular-season series at Amsoil Arena. The Pioneers host St. Cloud State on Friday and Saturday.
  • The Bulldogs extended their unbeaten streak to nine games (7-0-2), which is the longest for the program since 2011-12 when it went 17 games without a loss between Oct. 21 and Jan. 13.
  • UMD senior defenseman Brenden Kotyk missed Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury, which he suffered during the first period Friday. He remained on the bench the entire night, but never took a shift in the second or third periods. Kotyk was replaced Saturday by freshman Jarod Hilderman, who is appeared in just his fifth game of the season and first game since Jan. 13. This is only Hilderman’s second time in the lineup over the last 24 games.

Minnesota Duluth.................... 2-0-0-0-2
Colorado College.................... 0-1-1-0-2
First period - 1. UMD, Dominic Toninato 11 (Neal Pionk, Alex Iafallo), 0:58 (pp); 2. UMD, Iafallo 14 (Willie Raskob), 1:47 (sh). Penalties - Teemu Kivihalme, CC (cross checking), 0:11; Nick Wolff, UMD (tripping), 1:38; Riley Tufte, UMD (hooking), 5:41; Avery Peterson, UMD (slashing), 18:48; Bryce Van Horn, CC (roughing), 19:35.
Second period - 3. CC, Matt Hansen 4 (Westin Michaud, Branden Makara), 19:57. Penalties - Carson Soucy, UMD (interference), 2:00; Bench minor, CC (too many men on the ice), 7:13; Raskob, UMD (interference), 7:15; Soucy, UMD (interference), 15:37; Kivihalme, CC (hooking), 16:13; Kivihalme, CC (10-minute misconduct), 16:13; Raskob, UMD (hooking), 18:47.
Third period - 4. CC, Cole McCaskill 2 (Kade Kehoe), 18:02. Penalties - Tufte, UMD (holding), 2:14; Raskob, UMD (roughing), 12:34; Christian Heil, CC (roughing), 12:34; Luc Gerdes, CC (high sticking), 18:51; Peterson, UMD (slashing), 19:40.
Overtime - No scoring. Penalties - Heil, CC (slashing), 2:37; Soucy, UMD (major and game misconduct for contact to the head), 4:53.
Shots on goal - UMD 7-6-9-2-24; CC 8-10-16-1-36. Goalies - Hunter Miska, UMD (36 shots-34 saves); Alec Leclerc, CC (24-22). Power plays - UMD 1-of-6; CC 1-of-10. Referees - Tom Sterns, Joe Sullivan. Linesmen - Chase McGee, Steve Stankevich. Att. - 6,072.

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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