College men’s hockey: UMD sophomores shine in NCAA regional
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Minnesota Duluth might need a few weeks to get over the late holding call that led to Boston University's game-winning, power-play goal in a 3-2 win Saturday in the NCAA Northeast Regional championship.
MANCHESTER, N.H. - Minnesota Duluth might need a few weeks to get over the late holding call that led to Boston University’s game-winning, power-play goal in a 3-2 win Saturday in the NCAA Northeast Regional championship.
And the video replay that failed to prove the Bulldogs had tied the game at 3-3 with 23.2 seconds left in regulation.
And the fact that after taking a nonstop charter flight from Duluth to Manchester on Wednesday, the NCAA had the Bulldogs fly home commercially on Sunday from Manchester to Minneapolis with a layover in Chicago, followed by a bus trip back to Duluth, adding insult to injury.
But once the Bulldogs do get over the weekend’s bad luck, the stinging sensation of Saturday’s defeat will turn to optimism because of what lies ahead for the program, especially when it comes to the Class of 2017 - the Bulldogs’ sophomores.
“Their whole class, it’s been fun to see them grow in two years,” UMD senior defenseman Derik Johnson said. “They came in, and last year we kind of struggled, and it was awesome to see them grow.
“It’s fun to watch. That class is a really close class, and they’re going to do a lot of good things for the program.”
While UMD’s seven-member junior class led the team in scoring with 114 points on 38 goals and 76 assists, it was the eight-member sophomore class that put the puck in the net the most, scoring a team-high 43 goals and adding 60 assists for 103 points.
The Class of 2017 didn’t disappoint this weekend at Verizon Wireless Arena, either. They led the team by scoring four of the Bulldogs’ six goals in the 4-1 win over Minnesota and loss to Boston U. Four of the nine assists came from sophomores as well.
“We really had a special group, and I believed that the first day of the year,” UMD senior wing Justin Crandall said, not just talking about the sophomores, but the whole team. “I thought we could make a run at it, and we came up a little bit short. Right now, I’m just so proud of all those guys in the locker room and just so excited about their future. The sky’s the limit for those guys next year.”
Defenseman Willie Raskob led UMD in scoring this weekend,
tallying two goals and assisting on another to land on the NCAA Northeast Regional all-tournament team along with junior center Tony Cameranesi and freshman goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo.
The Terriers were represented by defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, forward Danny O’Regan and the tournament’s most outstanding player, Evan Rodrigues., who finished with three goals and an assist for four points.
Had it been Raskob scoring the game-winner instead of Rodrigues on Saturday, the award would have gone to the sophomore, who had scored only two goals prior to the weekend in his previous 69 collegiate games.
“(Raskob) went through some ups and downs this year, but the second half and certainly the latter part of the year he really played well,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “I think you saw a real strong weekend from him and the things that he can do.”
UMD played the same 18 skaters, plus Kaskisuo in goal, for both regional games, meaning six sophomores, a pair of freshman and all seven juniors got a big taste of what playing in the NCAA tournament is like. Prior to the weekend, only two of the four seniors had ever taken the ice and played in an NCAA tournament game.
All week long those seniors, who reached the field of 16 as freshmen in 2012, preached to the underclassmen how hard it was to get to the tournament.
After Saturday, Sandelin hopes his underclassmen understand it’s even harder to advance to the Frozen Four.
“You can talk about all the experiences, but they have to go and live those,” Sandelin said. “Hopefully our young guys can get some experience knowing how hard it is to get to this point, how hard it is to continue past this point. In one-game shots, they’re difficult. You can’t control bounces, you can’t control those types of things.
“Hopefully they come back here extremely motivated to get back here and go farther. The ultimate goal is to win a national championship and we had a chance and we just fell a little short.”