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College men's hockey: UMD's Osterberg, Molenaar come through in clutch to beat SCSU in overtime

Minnesota Duluth players Riley Tufte (27), Alex Iafallo (14) Adam Johnson (7), Karson Kuhlman (20) and Neal Pionk (4) celebrate after Kuhlman scored a goal against St. Cloud State in the first period of Saturday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. UMD won 4-3 in overtime. Clint Austin / 1 / 3
Minnesota Duluth right wing Karson Kuhlman (20) competes with Ryan Papa (9) of St. Cloud State for the puck during Saturday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. UMD won 4-3 in overtime. Clint Austin / austin@duluthnews.com2 / 3
Minnesota Duluth left wing Riley Tufte (27) competes with Nathan Widman (5) of St. Cloud State for the puck during Saturday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. UMD won 4-3 in overtime. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com3 / 3

Minnesota Duluth senior defenseman Dan Molenaar only had two points in his first 20 games this season.

The Eden Prairie, Minn., native doubled that total Saturday night with his first goal of the season and an assist on the game-winning goal as the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs picked up their first win of 2017 via a 4-3 overtime decision over St. Cloud State in front of a sellout crowd of 7,015 fans at Amsoil Arena.

“Big win on the faceoff, we got guys to the net and it went in,” said Scott Sandelin on the game-winning goal that gave him win No. 300 as Bulldogs head coach. “A big three points. I liked our team’s effort over the course of the game tonight.”

Molenaar sent a shot toward the Huskies' net that senior wing Kyle Osterberg was able to deflect in with 2:27 remaining in overtime to keep the first-place Bulldogs (13-5-4, 9-4-1) three points ahead of second-place Denver in the NCHC standings.

“This is a little bit of a confidence boost for us. We had some tough games where we couldn’t find things and we couldn’t get going,” said Osterberg, whose team was 0-2-1 to start 2017. “Now with this game under our belt, we can get back to how we were playing before the break. It’s also a big three points for league play as well. This game is going to be a good turning point for us.”

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead thanks to a power-play goal by sophomore wing Karson Kuhlman in the opening four minutes; the second goal in five games as a Bulldog for junior forward Avery Peterson midway through the first; and a wicked backhander through traffic by Molenaar 4:25 into the second period.

“It definitely feels nice to contribute on the stat sheet a little bit,” Molenaar said. “I’ve been trying to contribute in other ways. It feels good to get (the first goal) out of the way.”

The Bulldogs ran into some major problems — literally and figuratively — shortly after going up 3-0, however.

It all started just over a minute after Molenaar’s goal when Huskies junior center Blake Winiecki put a puck on the UMD net from the end line. It bounced off the near post, off UMD freshman goaltender Hunter Miska and in.

Sophomore forward Patrick Newell scored the first of back-to-back power-play goals for the Huskies in the second to pull his team within one. Newell was able to skate unchecked toward the UMD net on a two-on-one rush for his goal while senior captain Dominic Toninato went to get a new stick after the puck appeared to have been cleared to the other end of the ice.

A slashing penalty on Toninato, combined with a major penalty and game misconduct for checking from behind on UMD senior defenseman Brenden Kotyk, gave the Huskies a two-man advantage shortly after, allowing sophomore defenseman Jimmy Schuldt to tie the game with 7:30 to play in the second.

“They came out in the second, I thought they were better,” Sandelin said of the Huskies. “They had some (good) shifts, had some momentum, then we got the third goal. Then it was kind of goofy after that with the penalties. They got the first goal, it was kind of a weak goal. They capitalized on their power plays and the next thing you know, it’s a whole new ballgame.”

Kotyk’s major penalty was the Bulldogs' third major in four games, with senior defenseman Willie Raskob being suspended for Friday’s 2-1 UMD loss after getting called for contract to the head-elbowing last Saturday in a 2-1 loss to Colorado College.

The Bulldogs didn’t take a major penalty in the first 16 games this season.

After scoring on their first power play of the night, UMD failed to score on its other two advantages. The third was a five-minute power play late in the third period when Huskies sophomore defenseman Will Borgen was called for interference-blindsiding. UMD only generated two shots on goal on the five-minute advantage.

Miska finished with 23 saves while Huskies freshman goaltender Zach Driscoll stopped 17 shots. Driscoll replaced sophomore starter Jack Smith 4:25 into the second period after Molenaar made it 3-0. Smith made nine saves on 12 shots.

“That was a big win,” Sandelin said. “Obviously hard fought. I liked our start. I thought we had a real good first period. I thought our guys had a lot of jump, a lot of intensity. It was nice to get the first goal for a change. I thought it was one of our better periods. We needed that. We needed to get on top of them early.”

St. Cloud State......................... 0-3-0-0—3

Minnesota Duluth.................... 2-1-0-1—4

First period — 1. UMD, Karson Kuhlman 5 (Alex Iafallo, Neal Pionk), 4:04 (pp); 2. UMD, Avery Peterson 2 (Iafallo), 9:48. Penalties — Ben Storm, SCSU (tripping), 2:39.

Second period — 3. UMD, Dan Molenaar 1 (Peterson, Nick Wolff), 4:25; 4. SCSU, Blake Winiecki 10 (Patrick Newell), 5:44; 5. SCSU, Newell 3 (Jack Poehling, Niklas Nevalainen), 9:37 (pp); 6. SCSU, Jimmy Schuldt 3 (Jack Ahcen, Mikey Eyssimont), 12:33 (pp). Penalties — Brenden Kotyk, UMD (cross checking), 6:36; Winiecki, SCSU (cross checking), 6:36; Jared Thomas, UMD (goaltender interference), 7:51; Thomas, UMD (roughing), 7:51; Will Borgen, SCSU (roughing), 7:51; Dominic Toninato, UMD (slashing), 11:11; Kotyk, UMD (checking from behind major and game misconduct), 11:42; bench minor, SCSU (too many players on the ice), 15:05.

Third period — No scoring. Penalties — Borgen, SCSU (major for interference), 11:33.

Overtime — 7. UMD, Kyle Osterberg 10 (Molenaar, Parker Mackay), 2:33. Penalties — None.

Shots on goal — SCSU 9-11-5-1—26; UMD 8-6-12-4—30. Goalies — Jeff Smith, SCSU (12 shots-9 saves); Zach Driscoll, SCSU (18-17); Hunter Miska, UMD (26-23). Power plays — SCSU 2-of-3; UMD 1-of-3. Referees — Nick Krebsbach, Timm Walsh. Linesmen — Brandon Schmitt, Jeff Schultz. Att. — 7,015.

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

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