College hockey: Together again, UMD's Cates brothers flourishing
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Cates brothers — Noah and Jackson of Stillwater, Minn. — were goal-scorers in high school with the Ponies. They were goal-scorers at the junior level in the United States Hockey League.
The truth for many players, however, is the ability to score goals in high school and juniors doesn't always translate to the college game.
That hasn't been the case for the Cateses eight games into the Bulldogs season as both brothers picked up their third goals of their freshman season on Saturday in a 3-1 victory at Notre Dame that finished off a weekend sweep of what is soon to be the nation's former No. 1 team.
As October comes to a close, older brother Jackson, 21, has five points, while younger brother Noah, 19, has six.
"They've played well and haven't always scored goals. They are so effective on our team," said coach Scott Sandelin, whose Bulldogs likely will be No. 1 in the nation again when the polls are released today.
"They are playing well and they play well off each other," Sandelin continued. "They are smart, they have good anticipation. They are good with the puck, they know where each other is going to be. They work hard. They got really good offensive skills — look at their puck-protection skills."
Both Noah and Jackson said Saturday that their adjustment to the college level has been helped by the fact that they are once again playing alongside each other not just as teammates, but linemates.
That's how it was growing up, right up until Jackson graduated from Stillwater where, as a senior, he had 27 goals in 31 games. Older brother then went on to play two seasons in the USHL with the Waterloo Blackhawks, where he posted 35 goals in 65 games last year.
Younger brother captained the Ponies for one more year in 2016-17, posting 23 goals in 28 games, before playing a single USHL season with the Omaha Lancers, where he scored 22 goals in 64 games.
"It's been a lot of fun so far," Jackson said of being reunited with Noah. "Being able to get some points and get some goals has been huge on the confidence. That helps your game a lot.
"So far it's been a pretty good step forward to the next level. Playing with Noah definitely helps and helps the comfort level. We have that chemistry, which helps make it easier."
Saturday was the second game this year both Cates brothers have scored, with the first coming Oct. 7 at Minnesota. That was the night Jackson got his first two goals.
Back on Oct. 13 in a win over Michigan Tech, they teamed up to assist fellow freshman forward and linemate Tanner Laderoute on his second collegiate goal.
Saturday, the Cates brothers were setting up themselves as Jackson assisted on Noah's second-period tally — a goal Noah admitted he actually was trying to set Jackson up for.
Noah's set-up attempt went much better in the third when he successfully assisted Jackson on a score that gave UMD the 3-1 lead.
"We're just more comfortable taking a step up from the junior level," Noah said of playing with Jackson. "The more comfortable you are out there, the more your game takes over. We're both smart players and our hockey IQ will take over. That's how we produce."
• With a sweep of last week's No. 1, Notre Dame, the Bulldogs are primed to take over the No. 1 ranking in both national polls today. UMD was third in the USCHO.com poll last week behind the Irish and St. Cloud State. In the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, UMD was second, but the Huskies received the second-most first-place votes. St. Cloud lost 3-2 at Northeastern on Saturday — the Huskies' first defeat under new coach Brett Larson of Duluth.
The Bulldogs may be inclined to decline that No. 1 ranking, however, as going back to 2014-15, they are now 8-5 against teams ranked No. 1 in the USCHO.com poll. Take out a trio of losses to Denver and that record is 8-2.
• The split between the UMD and St. Cloud women over the weekend featured four different national team goaltenders. Friday's 2-1 victory for the Bulldogs was a European battle. Swedish national team goalie Emma Soderberg, a freshman, made 15 saves for UMD, while Switzerland's Janine Alder, a junior, stopped 39 shots for the Huskies. Saturday's 3-2 Huskies win was an All-American battle with the newest U.S. National Team goaltender, sophomore Emma Polusny, making 48 saves for St. Cloud against U.S. Olympic gold medal goalie Maddie Rooney, who stopped 18 for UMD.
• Former Bulldogs forward Joey Anderson, the older brother of UMD sophomore defenseman Mikey Anderson, made his NHL debut with the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. He finished with 8 minutes and 30 seconds of ice time. Joey Anderson played two seasons at UMD from 2016-18, helping the team win an NCAA title a year ago.
After getting eight games in this month — something only four other teams have done thus far — the Bulldog men will take a week off before starting NCHC play Nov. 9-10 against Colorado College at Amsoil Arena.
The UMD women will pause WCHA action for two weeks, playing the Minnesota Whitecaps of the National Women's Hockey League in an exhibition at 4 p.m. Saturday at Amsoil Arena. They will then take a week off before traveling to Ohio State Nov. 16-17.