College men's hockey: UMD's unbeaten streak continues, but tie hurts title chances

Minnesota Duluth extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games this week, but once again left precious points on the board in a tight NCHC regular-season title chase.

Bob King / UMD's Karson Kuhlman slams into Miami goalie Ryan Larkin while attempting to score in the first period Friday at Amsoil Arena.

Minnesota Duluth extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games this week, but once again left precious points on the board in a tight NCHC regular-season title chase.

The second-ranked Bulldogs - who are 8-0-3 in their last 11 - scored twice in the third period to pull ahead Friday, but Miami picked up the equalizer late to force a 3-3 tie in NCHC play before 6,290 fans on Senior Night at Amsoil Arena.

Freshman wing Gordie Green tied the game for the RedHawks (9-16-7 overall, 5-12-5 NCHC) with 3:25 remaining in regulation. He then deprived the Bulldogs (20-5-7, 14-4-4) of a second league point by scoring 3:46 into the bonus 3-on-3 period.

"We haven't lost in 11 games, that's pretty impressive," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. "We've gotten points every weekend and we've still got home ice. That was important. There are a lot of good things this team has done, but we want to keep building and getting better because we know there is more hockey to play."

The Bulldogs - who have clinched home ice in the NCHC quarterfinals March 10-12 - entered the second-to-last week of the regular season second in the NCHC, just two points back of league-leading and top-ranked Denver after taking only five of six points at Colorado College a week ago and five of six points from Nebraska-Omaha at home before that.


The four points UMD earned via Friday's result and the 4-3 win Thursday put UMD atop the NCHC for 24 hours, but the Bulldogs fell back to second after Denver retook the league lead by one point via a 4-3 overtime win late Friday night at home against St. Cloud State. The Pioneers, who are on an eight-game winning streak, will be able to extend that lead Saturday when they host the Huskies again at 8:05 p.m.

"I wouldn't change anything," Sandelin said of where his team sits with a week remaining in the regular season. "To do what we've done, certainly we've had some real good road wins. Our road record (11-1-3) has been good. It's one of those things right now where it seems like we're a little off, but we're not way off."

Sophomore wing Adam Johnson of Hibbing made it a 2-2 game five minutes into the third period on a power play, notching his 14th goal of the season. Sophomore wing Parker Mackay then put UMD up 3-2 just over three minutes later with his fifth goal of the season.

Because of how strong UMD has been defensively this season - giving up just 1.97 goals per game prior to the series - Sandelin said he has a team he expects to win when it scores three goals.

That didn't happen this weekend, with UMD needing a late goal Thursday to get by Miami 4-3 in the series opener. Three goals only produced a tie Friday.

"We got to clean up some stuff and play more complete games," UMD senior captain Dominic Toninato said. "We jumped out to leads the last couple games and we've let teams back into it. We got to get that killer instinct and keep going.

"We have to bear down. It's that time of year where goals are hard to come by. We got to keep working at getting to the paint and getting to those dirty areas because that's how a lot of goals are going in with rebounds."

The RedHawks took a 2-1 lead into the third period after ripping two shots from the point past UMD freshman goaltender Hunter Miska during the second period.


Freshman defenseman Jared Brandt got the first puck by, bouncing a shot off Miska and in to tie the game at 1-1. Sophomore defenseman Grant Hutton from just below the blue line then fired a puck through Miska's legs to give Miami the lead with 2:02 remaining in the second.

Brandt and Hutton, who are defensive partners, each picked up a goal Thursday. They finished the weekend with a combined four goals and two assists.

"We had a couple big breakdowns that cost us a few points on the weekend. We have to try and sharpen that up and go into next weekend much stronger," Johnson said. "We got to try and get in front of those shots and box out in front to let Hunter see the puck cleanly. We know he'll stop it. We got to try and do that and we'll be a lot better off."

UMD led 1-0 after the first period thanks to a goal by Toninato, the Duluth East graduate who was announced as the winner of the team's fan favorite award Friday.

Toninato and senior wing Alex Iafallo drove into the Miami zone as the period approached the midway point. Iafallo dished to Toninato, who was able to use his speed to beat a defender and get off a well-placed shot to the near post, top shelf.

The Bulldogs wrap up the regular season next week at third-place Western Michigan, needing a Broncos loss or tie this weekend at Colorado College or next weekend against UMD to at least secure second in the NCHC. The RedHawks sit seventh in the league, meaning they could be back in Duluth in two weeks for the NCHC quarterfinals.

"It was a good, hard-fought series. They're a team that contests the whole rink. They're real good with sticks," Sandelin said. "I thought defensively we were a little bit loose. We need to tighten that up. I thought we gave them a little too much space. You look at the goals, they were just getting pucks to the net and a couple went in with deflections, but that's what happens. They were getting shots through. We need to block more shots up top. Those things are all correctable."



Minnesota Duluth............. 1-0-2-0-3

First period - 1. UMD, Dominic Toninato 11 (Alex Iafallo, Billy Exell), 9:08. Penalties - Nick Wolff, UMD (holding), 10:09; Joey Anderson, UMD (cross checking), 19:49; Anthony Louis, MU (slashing), 19:49.

Second period - 2. MU, Jared Brandt 3 (Josh Melnick, Louis), 8:51; 3. MU, Grant Hutton 9 (Gordie Green, Scott Dornbrock), 18:58. Penalties - Kyle Osterberg, UMD (holding), 3:53; Colin Sullivan, MU (interference), 9:35; Riley Tufte, UMD (tripping), 13:37.

Third period - 4. UMD, Adam Johnson, 14 (Neal Pionk, Toninato), 5:03; 5. UMD, Parker Mackay 5 (Jared Thomas, Pionk), 8:12; 6. MU, Green 6 (Brandt, Zach LaValle), 16:35. Penalties - Grant Frederic, MU (slashing), 3:44; Conor Lemirande, MU (interference), 5:58.

Overtime - No scoring. Penalties - None.

Shots on goal - MU 5-10-5-3-23; UMD 10-12-9-1-32. Goalies - Ryan Larkin, MU (32 shots-29 saves); Hunter Miska, UMD (23-20). Power plays - MU 0-of-3; UMD 1-of-3. Referees - Geno Binda, Brad Shepherd. Linesmen - Nick Biondich, Sterling, Egan. Att. - 6,290.

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.
What To Read Next
Get Local