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College men's hockey: UMD falls to Clarkson in Desert Hockey Classic final

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A year ago in Hanover, N.H., Minnesota Duluth used a holiday tournament title to jump start a stellar second half of the regular season. UMD won Dartmouth's Ledyard Bank Classic and later a second NCAA championship.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - A year ago in Hanover, N.H., Minnesota Duluth used a holiday tournament title to jump start a stellar second half of the regular season. UMD won Dartmouth’s Ledyard Bank Classic and later a second NCAA championship.

The fourth-ranked Bulldogs hoped another holiday tourney title - this time over 2,500 miles away in the state of Arizona - would have a similar effect this year, but instead they came up just short, losing 3-1 to Clarkson on Saturday night in the championship of Arizona State’s Desert Hockey Classic at Gila River Arena.

Senior captain Parker Mackay said the Bulldogs, who opened with a 4-3 overtime win over third-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato on Friday, need to realize they need to come out both nights in tournament play.
“They got off to a quick start with two goals. We can’t let that happen,” Mackay said. “We’re going to learn from it with the big tournaments ahead. Last year the (NCHC) Frozen Faceoff wasn’t what we wanted, but we took a lot of positives out of it and so we’re going to have to do the same with this experience, too.”

The Golden Knights took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission as seventh defenseman Shane Kuzmeski, a junior, picked up his first goal of the season at the 8:01 mark. Junior center Nico Sturm notched the next one three seconds after a UMD penalty expired.

Sturm finished with a pair of goals Saturday, adding an empty-net goal in the final minute.

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Clarkson goaltender Jake Kielly, a junior from Eden Prairie, Minn., who was named tournament MVP, made 29 saves, giving up just one goal all weekend.

“I thought our guys competed hard, that’s a hard team to play against. We knew that coming in,” said UMD associate head coach Jason Herter, who was filling in for head coach Scott Sandelin while he serves as an assistant coach for the U.S. National Junior Team at the World Junior Championship in British Columbia. Sophomore defensemen Mikey Anderson and Dylan Samberg and freshman forward Noah Cates are also with Team USA.

“That was a playoff-style hockey game,” Herter said. “I’m proud of our boys for how they worked. What was missing was that first part of that first period, and that save Kielly made on (freshman forward Cole) Koepke. That was a game-changer, even if it happens that early. That’s a momentum thing.”

The Bulldogs did appear to eventually flip the momentum in the opening minute of the second period, pulling within one just 32 seconds into the period. Sophomore center Justin Richards heard his captain yell to him on the rush so he sent the puck in the direction of Mackay as the two drove to the net. Mackay tapped it in for his team-leading eighth goal of the season.

Mackay said Richards’ backhanded pass was “special” and anyone could have scored on a setup like that.

“That first period wasn’t pretty. We were down 2-rip so we knew we had to come out and do something there in the second period to change the momentum,” Richards said. “That goal did exactly that. I think from that moment on we really dictated the pace of the game. We really outplayed them in the second and third period.”

The Bulldogs never equalized, however, even with a pair of power plays in the third period. The night before in the OT win over the Mavericks, UMD used a power-play goal late in the third period to tie the game at 3-3.

The Bulldogs finished 0-for-3 on power plays Friday, generating four shots on goal. That’s the same amount of shots the penalty kill put on goal.

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Herter said the Bulldogs can create more chances on power plays by attacking the net more, especially after launching an initial shot on goal.

“It’s that recovery after a shot that matters in any power play,” Herter said. “We tend to after a shot … get it back to the top and try again as opposed to just take it to the net. When you got five and they got four, the chances are you can get to the net. That’s something we’ll keep working on.”

The Bulldogs return home to host the U.S. National Team Development Program next Saturday at Amsoil Arena before hosting St. Cloud State in NCHC play Jan. 11-12.

Minn. Duluth 0-1-0-1
Clarkson 2-0-1-3 First period - 1. CU, Shane Kuzmeski 1 (Nick Campoli), 8:01; 2. CU, Nico Sturm 8 (Haralds Egle), 15:41. Penalties - Bench minor, CU (too many players on the ice), 3:17; Cole Koepke, UMD (tripping), 8:37; Nick Wolff, UMD (interference), 13:38.
Second period - 3. UMD, Packer Mackay 8 (Justin Richards, Louie Roehl), 0:32. Penalties - Riley Tufte, UMD (cross checking), 10:29; Jordan Schneider, CU (roughing), 10:29; Roehl, UMD (holding), 12:53; Schneider, CU (roughing), 19:14; Richards, UMD (roughing), 19:14.
Third period - 4. CU, Sturm 9 (Aaron Thow), 19:26 (en). Penalties - Egle, CU (hooking), 4:16; Kuzmeski, CU (hooking), 11:32.
Shots on goal - UMD 6-12-12-30; CU 4-8-3-15. Goalies - Hunter Shepard, UMD (14 shots-12 saves); Jake Kielly, CU (30-29). Power plays - UMD 0-of-3; CU 0-of-3. Referees - Pete Friesema, Josh Lupinek. Linesmen - Mike Sarter, Chris Zorza. Att. - N/A.

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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