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College men's hockey: UMD, Denver skate to a tie; Bulldogs win shootout

As Minnesota Duluth's National Collegiate Hockey Conference season reached the halfway point Saturday, it's evident that the Bulldogs excel when a few factors are in their favor.

As Minnesota Duluth's National Collegiate Hockey Conference season reached the halfway point Saturday, it's evident that the Bulldogs excel when a few factors are in their favor.

Strong goaltending, tough penalty-killing units and avoiding overtime games have been staples in UMD's victories this season.

The Bulldogs followed the first two items of a winning script tonight against Denver but couldn't prevent another overtime in a 2-2 tie before a record crowd of 6,889 at Amsoil Arena. Alex Iafallo scored both UMD goals in regulation and, along with Caleb Herbert, netted shootout goals to give UMD an extra point in the NCHC standings.

The Bulldogs exuded much more energy coming out of the gate, recording the game's first 11 shots on goal. One of those came off the stick of Iafallo, a freshman from Eden, N.Y., who scooped up a loose puck in the slot and backhanded over diving goaltender Sam Brittain for a 1-0 lead at 7:29 of the first period.

The Pioneers, typically a second-period team this season, were kept off the scoreboard as UMD goalie Aaron Crandall continued his stellar play with 13 stops in the period.

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Denver tied the game 2:55 into the third period, but it took even longer than that for officials to rule via video review that Ty Loney's shot crossed the goal line. Loney's flicked a shot that deflected over Crandall's shoulder and landed on the line. UMD forward Cal Decowski shoved the puck underneath Crandall, but it squirted out and clearly into the goal.

UMD retook the lead when Iafallo scored his second of the game and team-high eighth of the season at the 13:30 mark. Linemate Adam Krause worked hard to get the puck and then slipped to Iafallo, who was streaking down the left wing to net his team-high 15th point of the season.

But that lead didn't last 90 seconds as Friday night's hero for Denver, Quentin Shore, punched in a rebound on the goal line after defenseman Joey LaLeggia's shot from the point deflected behind Crandall.

Both teams had plenty of chances to score the game-winner in a free-skating game that saw few penalties. UMD killed off both Denver attempts and has now stopped 28 of opponents' last 29 tries.

Crandall finished with 34 saves, while Brittain made 39.

UMD is 9-9-2 overall and 5-6-1-1 in conference. Denver, which is 9-2-5 in its last 16 games, is 12-7-5 and 6-4-2-1.

  • After Friday's 3-2 overtime win, Denver moved ahead of UMD in the Pairwise Rankings, which mimic the NCAA tournament selection rankings. Denver entered Saturday's play tied for 22nd, while UMD slipped to 25th. The NCAA's final rankings will be used to determine tournament at-large teams.
  • Single-session tickets are on sale for this weekend's inaugural North Star Challenge Cup at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center. UMD faces former WCHA rival Minnesota State-Mankato at 4 p.m. Friday, while Minnesota and St. Cloud State tangle at 7. The winners meet at 7 p.m. Saturday, preceded by the third-place game at 4. Single-session tickets, which include both games, are $45. A limited number of two-day packages are available for $80. Tickets may be purchased at ticketmaster.com.
  • The Bulldogs are 6-2-2 in rematch games this season and 0-3-7 in overtime games since beating Minnesota State-Mankato in the 2012 Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.
  • Related Topics: HOCKEY
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