College men's hockey: Western Michigan scores in final half-minute to down top-ranked Bulldogs

For just the second time this season, Minnesota Duluth lost a third period. And just like the last time, the Bulldogs lost the game. Western Michigan sophomore center Colt Conrad scored in the final minute of the first period and final minute of ...

UMD freshman Joey Anderson watches the puck as Western Michigan's Cam Lee defends during the second period Friday at Amsoil Arena. (Brett Groehler/UMD)

For just the second time this season, Minnesota Duluth lost a third period.

And just like the last time, the Bulldogs lost the game.

Western Michigan sophomore center Colt Conrad scored in the final minute of the first period and final minute of the third period to lead the unranked Broncos to a 4-3 upset of the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs in NCHC play at Amsoil Arena.

It was the first NCHC loss in five games for the Bulldogs (7-2-2 overall, 4-1-0 NCHC) after scoring sweeps of North Dakota and St. Cloud State the previous two weeks. UMD will have a chance to salvage a split at 7:07 p.m. today when the Broncos (6-2-1, 3-2-0) return to Amsoil Arena.

“The last minute of the game you have to buckle down. I thought we didn’t do that. We just were a little bit loose. The same thing as the first period,” said Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin, whose team dusted Western Michigan a year ago at home 7-0 and 6-2 in the only meetings between the two schools. Shot margin was 85-54 in the series in favor of UMD.


“Give them credit, I told you they are a good hockey team,” Sandelin said, referencing his warning during his Wednesday news conference. “They’re a lot different. I tried to tell our team that, too. Hopefully they realize now they’re a pretty (dang) good hockey team.”

The Bulldogs entered the weekend having outscored the opposition 14-2 in the third period with a 107-68 shot advantage. They beat the Fighting Hawks and Huskies by 8-0 combined in the third the last four games with a 42-28 shot advantage.

The only outlier was at home on Oct. 15 against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish outscored UMD 2-0 in the third period and tied UMD in shots 8-8 to prevail 3-1.

UMD outshot the Broncos 6-4 in the third period, but were outscored 1-0.

“We’re a team that prides ourselves on a good third period with conditioning, physicality. We just didn’t have it tonight. That’s a frustrating thing, definitely,” Bulldogs junior wing Karson Kuhlman said. “They are good defensively. They got some big boys who can also move their feet. That’s a good combination for a good defensive team. I thought we did a good job all week working on (offensive)-zone pressure getting pucks to the net. I thought we didn’t execute on a few plays today.”

The Bulldogs and Broncos tallied three goals each in the opening 20 minutes, with UMD jumping to a short-lived 3-1 lead at one point.

Conrad tied the game at 3-3 with his second goal of the season by scoring with 3.1 seconds left in the first period. He struck again with 30.6 seconds to go in regulation for the upset of the unanimous No. 1 team in the country and early NCHC leaders.

Conrad’s goal late in the third was the first goal given up by Bulldogs freshman goaltender Hunter Miska in the third period this season. He’d stopped 41 of 41 shots in third periods up until that point.


Miska finished with 19 saves on 23 shots Friday in what was his fifth straight start.

“They caught us off-guard a couple times using their speed and using their bodies,” UMD senior defenseman Carson Soucy said. “They defended hard. You have to give them credit. We just got to stay in those (puck) battles more. We have to want those battles more. Tonight they outworked us a little bit.”

Senior wing Alex Iafallo, freshman forward Joey Anderson and sophomore wing Parker Mackay staked the Bulldogs to a 3-1 lead 15 minutes into the game, but Broncos sophomore wing and leading scorer Matheson Iacopelli cut the lead back to one almost a minute and a half after Mackay’s goal.

The Broncos led 1-0 when junior wing Aidan Muir scored his first goal of the season almost eight minutes into the game. He’d later leave the ice late in the first after having his wrist cut by a Bulldogs skate. Muir immediately dropped his gloves and stick and rushed to get off the ice. He did not return to the game.

It was the third game in a row UMD allowed its opponent to take a 1-0 lead in the first period and seventh time this season.

“We just got to come out and start on time,” Soucy said. “They beat us in the first five (minutes) again. They scored the first goal. We have to get that first one (today).”

The late arrivals for the Bulldogs haven’t been much of an issue, however, because they respond either promptly in the first period like they did Friday or in the third.

There was no third-period comeback Friday against the Broncos, who continued to stymie the Bulldogs offense. It proved to be just the fourth time this season UMD failed to score in the third period.


According to Soucy and Kuhlman, it didn’t help the Bulldogs took three penalties - a trip, a hook and interference - in the third. The penalties disrupted the flow and both admitted the team needs to be smarter with their sticks and positioning in tonight’s rematch, which is the Bulldogs’ second-to-last game at Amsoil Arena in 2016.

UMD doesn’t return home again until Dec. 16 when Bemidji State visits for a nonconference game.

“It’s hard when you’re in the box,” Sandelin said. “Obviously it could go either way, but it’s tough to get any flow going when you are killing penalties. I thought our killers again did a great job and kept the game 3-3. (Western) got the goal at the end. What more is there to say?”

Western Michigan.................... 3-0-1-4 Minnesota Duluth.................... 3-0-0-3

First period - 1. WMU, Aidan Muir 1 (Matheson Iacopelli, Frederik Tiffels), 7:57 (pp); 2. UMD, Alex Iafallo 7 (Joey Anderson, Carson Soucy), 10:48; 3. UMD, Joey Anderson 4 (Dominic Toninato, Nick Wolff), 14:23; 4. UMD, Parker Mackay 3 (Jared Thomas), 15:32; 5. WMU, Iacopelli 10 (Sheldon Dries, Taylor Fleming), 16:50; 6. WMU, Colt Conrad 2 (Griffen Molino, Corey Schueneman), 19:56. Penalties - Dries, WMU (high sticking), 3:54; Sammy Spurrell, UMD (hooking), 7:14.

Second period - No scoring. Penalties - Jared Thomas, UMD (tripping), 1:57; Willie Raskob, UMD (holding), 7:53; Cam Lee, WMU (hooking), 12:22.

Third period - 5. WMU, Conrad 3 (Tiffels, Wade Allison), 19:29. Penalties - Blake Young, UMD (hooking), 2:23; Adam Johnson, UMD (hooking), 6:53; Paul Stoykewych, WMU (holding), 10:02; Raskob, UMD (interference), 15:28.

Shots on goal - WMU 12-7-4-23; UMD 8-10-6-24. Goalies - Trevor Gorsuch, WMU (24 shots-21 saves); Hunter Miska, UMD (23-19). Power plays - WMU 1-of-6; UMD 0-of-3. Referees - Ian Croft, Jarrod Ragusin. Linesmen - Andy Dokken, Dana Penkivech. Att. - 5,836.


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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