College men's hockey: Iafallo hat trick leads No. 2 Bulldogs over No. 1 North Dakota in NCHC opener

The last time Minnesota Duluth saw the ice showered with hats for one of its own was during the 2011-12 season when J.T. Brown recorded four goals in a 4-1 men's hockey win at Alaska-Anchorage.That also happened to be the only season -- until now...

Kyle Osterberg (8) of Minnesota Duluth crashes into North Dakota goaltender Cam Johnson (33) during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. (Clint Austin /

The last time Minnesota Duluth saw the ice showered with hats for one of its own was during the 2011-12 season when J.T. Brown recorded four goals in a 4-1 men’s hockey win at Alaska-Anchorage.
That also happened to be the only season - until now - the Bulldogs picked up a win over North Dakota at Amsoil Arena.
The Fighting Hawks have made themselves at home over the past six years at what’s supposed to be the home of the Bulldogs. That wasn’t the case Friday night, however, as senior wing Alex Iafallo became the first Bulldog since Brown to tally a hat trick, leading the second-ranked Bulldogs over No. 1 North Dakota 5-2 in the NCHC opener for both schools played before 6,393 at Amsoil Arena.
UMD went into Friday’s game 1-6 all-time against the Hawks at Amsoil and had been outscored 27-8 in those games, which included a 5-0 loss on Dec. 30, 2010, in the very first game at the new rink.
“It’s a great feeling, especially to get that win most importantly,” said Iafallo, whose Bulldogs host the defending NCHC and NCAA champions again at 7:07 p.m. today. “It felt good to beat those guys, the defending champs. It was definitely fun to win and get the freshmen experience against North Dakota.”

Iafallo secured his first collegiate hat trick with an empty-net goal in the final minute of play. It was a bit of redemption after being denied by Hawks junior goaltender Cam Johnson from point-blank range with just under five minutes to play. Sophomore center Adam Johnson set up Iafallo’s first goal of the night to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead less than six minutes in. Johnson of Hibbing forced Hawks senior captain and defenseman Gage Ausmus to take a hooking penalty, then from the point one-timed a shot that Iafallo redirected.
The play may have seemed like a fluke, but it was something Johnson and Iafallo both said they’d been practicing all week.
“We’ve been trying to get a lot of shots on the power play, so I gave it over to (Carson Soucy) and he made a nice pass back,” Johnson said of the first goal. “I just tried to get it on net. (Iafallo) made a great tip and we were fortunate enough it went in.”
Johnson put the Bulldogs up 2-0 early in the second period on what he admitted was a bit of a fluke. From behind the Fighting Hawks’ net, Adam Johnson bounced the puck in off the skate of a sprawled out Cam Johnson.
Iafallo then gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead seven minutes into the second period by finishing off a cross-ice pass from freshman wing Joey Anderson, who now has seven assists in seven games this season.
It was a tic-tac-toe play that Iafallo credited to teammates like Anderson. Like his first goal, Iafallo said it was just as the team practiced.
“I’m happy for him, he’s had a good start to the year and it’s not just tonight because he scored,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said of Iafallo. “He’s been playing well. It’s nice to see guys get rewarded. He’s had some goals before. Good for him. Those are the guys we need to step up in these types of games.”
The Fighting Hawks tried to climb back late in the second, taking advantage of a pair of UMD mistakes.
Sophomore center Rhett Gardner put the Hawks on the board by staking out space in front of the UMD crease during a power play to finish off an easy rebound.
With less than a minute to play in the second, sophomore wing Shane Gersich scored via a clean breakaway after UMD senior defenseman Willie Raskob whiffed on a puck at center ice.
Bulldogs sophomore defenseman Neal Pionk squashed the Hawks’ rally in the third period with a bomb from the left point during a power play to put the Bulldogs up 4-2.
“Giving up the one late in the second period, it was probably a good thing the period ended,” Sandelin said. “We could regroup. I thought our guys came out and played a good third period. That next goal was obviously big. We were fortunate enough to get it and I thought our guys closed the game down.”

North Dakota 0-2-0-2
Minnesota Duluth 1-2-2-5
First period - 1. UMD, Alex Iafallo 3 (Adam Johnson, Carson Soucy), 5:46 (pp). Penalties - Gae Ausmus, ND (hooking), 5:09; Neal Pionk, UMD (interference), 11:50; Dan Molenaar, UMD (tripping), 15:48; Ludvig Hoff, ND (hooking), 17:04.
Second period - 2. UMD, Johnson 5 (Kyle Osterberg, Karson Kuhlman), 5:48; 3. UMD, Iafallo 4 (Joey Anderson, Soucy), 7:04; 4. ND, Rhett Gardner 3 (Shane Gersich, Christian Wolanin), 17:17 (pp); 5. ND, Gersich, 19:13. Penalties - Willie Raskob, UMD (interference), 0:54; Chris Wilkie, ND (slashing), 9:09; Dominic Toninato, UMD (slashing), 11:47; Soucy, UMD (tripping), 16:11..
Third period - 6. UMD, Neal Pionk 4 (Iafallo, Kyle Osterbeg), 8:32 (pp); 6. UMD, Iafallo 5, 19:31. Penalties - Joel Hanatuinen, ND (roughing), 5:25; Riley Tufte, UMD (roughing), 5:25; Nick Wolff, UMD (interference), 5:25; Shane Gersich, ND (high sticking), 7:36; Brock Boeser, ND (slashing), 9:39; Ausmus, ND (cross checking), 10:09; Soucy, UMD (slashing), 10:09.
Shots on goal - ND 5-16-5-26; UMD 13-13-12-38. Goalies - Cam Johnson, ND (37 shots-33 saves); Hunter Miska, UMD (26-24). Power plays - ND 1-of-6; UMD 2-of-5. Referees - Ryan Hersey, Timm Walsh. Linesmen - Sterling Egan, Dana Penkivech. Att. - 6,393.

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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