With 15 skaters standing at least 6 feet and five that tower 6-foot-4 or higher, Western Michigan created matchup problems on Friday for a much smaller Minnesota Duluth team with just nine skaters that hit at least 6 feet.

The exception to that rule was 6-6 Bulldogs sophomore defenseman Brenden Kotyk.

“Guys my size, I’m actually able to hit now,” Kotyk said. “With littler guys, I have to be a little more careful because I’ll get penalties.”

Kotyk, who is one of two UMD skaters that stand 6-4 or taller, was more of a goal-scorer than checker on Friday, though. His goal and assist helped the Bulldogs battle back from a two-goal first-period deficit to tie Western Michigan 2-2 before losing the ensuing shootout 2-1 at Amsoil Arena.

Kotyk scored the first goal for UMD, then assisted on the game-tying goal that gave the Bulldogs one point in the NCHC standings. UMD (13-7-1 overall, 8-4-1 NCHC) will try for three points again tonight when it hosts the Broncos (9-9-3, 2-6-2-3) at 7:07 p.m.

“I thought he played a good game for us tonight,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said of Kotyk. “I thought he was strong. I thought he did a good job. Overall he had a strong game for us and he was one of our better defensemen tonight.”

UMD senior wing Justin Crandall was credited with the tying goal that forced overtime 4:57 into the third period when a shot by Kotyk deflected off the stick of junior center Tony Cameranesi and the head of Crandall before finding the back of the net.

Kotyk pulled the Bulldogs within a goal in the second period with a successful blast from the blue line on a short power play. It was the first collegiate goal for Kotyk, a St. Scholastica transfer, who was the only UMD sophomore without a goal to his name going into the series.

“When I shot the puck and saw it went in, words can’t describe my feeling,” Kotyk said. “I got back to the bench and the team was happy for me, which was nice to see. It’s finally nice to get that first goal.

“With Crandall’s goal, I just fired it on net and it went off his head. It was pretty funny. We were all laughing about it after. On the first goal, he was a major part working in the corner and getting me the puck.”

Another sophomore defenseman, Willie Raskob, nearly got the Bulldogs on the board early in the second period when two Broncos collided to set him up for a breakaway. UMD sophomore wing Karson Kuhlman used his stick to keep a breakaway of his own alive later to try and tie the game. Both breaks ended with Broncos junior goaltender Lukas Hafner making a save.

Kuhlman missed another chance in front of the net early in the third period to tie the game. UMD sophomore wing Kyle Osterberg then had a chance to win the game for UMD late in the third, as did junior center Cal Decowski via a rebound from Osterberg’s shot, but Hafner made the save on Osterberg and Decowski’s chance missed high.

In overtime, Crandall fired a potential game-winning shot that was stopped, and Osterberg picked up the rebound, only to hit the pipe on his attempt.

“I give our guys credit for battling back,” Sandelin said. “I thought we had some opportunities in the second and third period to score more, but I thought we started slow. We put two or three shifts together where we were getting going and then we took the penalties and dug a hole.”

The Broncos took advantage of a pair of Bulldog penalties to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

Nolan LaPorte assisted junior wing Colton Hargrove on the Broncos’ first goal, scored on a 5-on-3 power play and netted the winning goal in the shootout.

 “It wasn’t the start we were looking for,” Cameranesi said. “We did all right when it was 5-on-5, but we got into a bit of penalty trouble, which took the swing out of things a little bit.

“We can’t keep doing that. It hurts the flow of the game.”

  • Brent Lunde of Cloquet won $50,000 during the second intermission when he put a shot from the far blue line through a small hole in a board placed in front of the goal. The $50,000 comes from a promotional company hired by the university. Click here to watch a video of him making the shot. 
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Western Michigan    2-0-0-0-2

Minnesota Duluth    0-1-1-0-2

WMU wins shootout 2-1

First period - 1. WMU, Colton Hargrove 7 (Matt Stewart, Nolan LaPorte), 15:43; 2. WMU, LaPorte 8 (Kenney Morrison, Justin Kovacs), 18:24 (pp). Penalties - Dominic Toninato, UMD (major for kneeing), 13:31; Kenney Morrison, WMU (interference), 15:02; Kyle Osterberg, UMD (roughing), 16:49.

Second period - 3. UMD, Brenden Kotyk 1 (Justin Crandall, Tony Cameranesi), 5:01 (pp). Penalties - Willie Corrin, UMD (tripping), 2:52; Sheldon Dries, WMU (interference), 3:12; Derik Johnson, UMD (boarding), 6:22; Dries, WMU (tripping), 12:43; Austin Farley, UMD (hooking), 17:58.

Third period - 4. UMD, Justin Crandall 6 (Tony Cameranesi, Kotyk), 4:57. Penalties - Austyn Young, UMD (elbowing), 5:43; Hargrove, WMU (tripping), 12:30.

Overtime - No scoring. Penalties - None.

Shootout - Alex Iafallo, UMD, goal; Colton Hargrove, WMU, saved; Austin Farley, UMD, saved; Frederik Tiffels, WMU, goal; Kyle Osterberg, UMD, saved; Nolan LaPorte, WMU, goal.