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College men's hockey: Swaney nets hat trick as Bulldogs cruise past Omaha

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Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth forward Nick Swaney (23) scores against Nebraska-Omaha during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. 2 / 9
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth forward Tanner Laderoute (13) shoots the puck on goal against Nebraska-Omaha goaltender Evan Weninger (35) during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. 3 / 9
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth goaltender Hunter Shepard makes a save against Nebraska-Omaha during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. 4 / 9
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth forward Nick Swaney (23) scores against Nebraska-Omaha goaltender Evan Weninger (35) during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. 5 / 9
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Jackson Cates, Tanner Laderoute and Louie Roehl of Minnesota Duluth celebrate a goal against Nebraska-Omaha during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. 6 / 9
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth forward Tanner Laderoute (13) scores against Nebraska-Omaha goaltender Evan Weninger (35) during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. 7 / 9
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth forward Nick Swaney (23) scores against Nebraska-Omaha goaltender Evan Weninger (35) during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. 8 / 9
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth forward Justin Richards (19) competes for the puck against Tristan Keck (19) of Nebraska-Omaha during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena. 9 / 9

Over the last three games, Minnesota Duluth sophomore wing Nick Swaney has lived up to his Twitter handle: @swaneshow.

He scored twice last week at Miami, including one on a short-handed breakaway. On Friday back before a crowd of 5,568 at Amsoil Arena, Swaney registered his first collegiate hat trick to lead the fifth-ranked Bulldogs to a 7-2 NCHC victory over Nebraska-Omaha.

Swaney gave UMD a 1-0 lead by taking a puck from his skate to his stick to the back of the net 7:14 into the first period. A video review confirmed it was legit.

The next two came during a five-goal second period for UMD. Swaney scored off a rebound 48 seconds into the period and then secured his spot as the team leader in goals at 11 by scoring on a 5-on-3 power play with less than three minutes to play in the second.

“Our line was playing great tonight,” said Swaney, who is joined on the top line by freshman wing Noah Cates and senior center Peter Krieger. “Noah and Kriegs were making plays happen. It was just working and I was able to find the back of the net a few times.”

The Bulldogs (15-6-2 overall, 8-4-1 NCHC) also got goals from junior defenseman Nick Wolff, freshman wing Tanner Laderoute and senior wing Parker Mackay in the second, when UMD outshot the Mavericks (7-14-2, 3-9-1) by a 24-5 margin.

The final margin for shots on goal was 56-17 in favor of the Bulldogs, who had a 12-1 advantage early. Shot attempts were 91-34 in favor of UMD.

Omaha starting goaltender Evan Weninger made a game’s worth of saves (37) in just two periods of work. Former North Dakota goaltender Matej Tomek, now a junior at Omaha, finished with 12 saves in the third.

Junior goaltender Hunter Shepard made 15 saves for the Bulldogs. He got beat on a breakaway in the first period — after foiling a pair of odd-man rushes earlier — and on a power play in the second to cut UMD’s lead to 4-2.

“We had a couple odd-man rushes, I think three in the first, but that’s because they are playing so aggressively offensively,” second-year Omaha coach Mike Gabinet said of the Bulldogs. “I thought they carried the play in the first period.

“When you get a team with that much talent on it that skates and works like that, they were ready to go.”

The Mavericks came into the weekend with the second-best power play in the NCHC at 24.5 percent and finished 1-for-3 Friday against the Bulldogs’ penalty kill, which came in as tops in the NCHC and nation at 92.9 percent.

UMD’s power play, which was third in the NCHC at 20.7, gained some ground on Omaha by going 3-for-5 on the night thanks to the two penalties the Mavs took eight seconds apart in the latter half of the second, resulting in Swaney’s third goal of the night and, 40 seconds later, the 10th goal of the season for Mackay.

Sophomore defenseman Dylan Samberg hit the extra-point attempt for UMD during a power play late in the third for just his third goal of the season and fourth of his career.

Swaney said the focus of power plays wasn’t to necessarily score each time out, but to create momentum.

“Over the last few games we’ve had our chances but might not have scored as much as we wanted to,” said Swaney, who was boarded late in the third to create the power play Samberg scored on. “We just went back to trying to create momentum every single time we are out there and put pucks on net. It worked a few times. We created great momentum on our power play, which helped us throughout the game.”

  • Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin refused to answer questions from the News Tribune after Friday’s game in response to a recent article on sophomore defenseman Scott Perunovich. He only responded to questions from UMD Sports Information on Friday. No other media was present for Friday’s postgame news conference.
  • After not finishing last Saturday’s game against Miami due to an injury, sophomore defenseman Louie Roehl was back in the Bulldogs lineup on Friday. UMD did lose a different body, however, when Laderoute was hit hard along the side boards during the second period by Omaha’s John Schuldt. Laderoute had to be helped off the ice by teammates and he did not return.
  • The Bulldogs wrap up their weekend and regular-season series against Omaha at 7:07 p.m. today with the game being televised on Fox Sports North. It’s the second half of a doubleheader at Amsoil Arena the begins at 3:07 p.m. as the UMD women go for a nonconference sweep of Quinnipiac.
Neb.-Omaha 1-1-0—2

Minn. Duluth 1-5-1—7First period — 1. UMD, Nick Swaney 9 (Matt Anderson, Noah Cates), 7:14; 2. UNO, Mason Morelli 14 (Ryan Jones), 16:58. Penalties — Tanner Laderoute, UMD (cross checking), 9:40.

Second period — 3. UMD, Swaney 10 (Scott Perunovich, Justin Richards), 0:48; 4. UMD, Nick Wolff 3, 6:20; 5. UMD, Laderoute 6 (Wolff, Louie Roehl), 13:20; 6. UNO, Teemu Pulkkinen 2 (Tyler Weiss, Jones), 15:48 (pp); 7. UMD, Swaney 11 (N. Cates, Perunovich), 17:08 (pp); 8. UMD, Parker Mackay 10 (Riley Tufte, Dylan Samberg), 17:48 (pp). Penalties — Nate Knoepke, UNO (cross checking), 10:28; Hunter Lellig, UMD (tripping), 14:00; John Schuldt, UNO (interference), 16:04; Jones, UNO (slashing), 16:12; N. Cates, UMD (roughing), 18:57.

Third period — 9. UMD, Samberg 3 (Mikey Anderson, Tufte), 15:24 (pp). Penalties — Weiss, UNO (holding and 10-minute misconduct), 5:04; Steven Spinner, UNO (boarding), 14:56.

Shots on goal — UNO 5-5-7—17; UMD 19-24-13—56. Goalies — Evan Weninger, UNO (43 shots-37 saves); Hunter Shepard, UMD (00-00). Power plays — UNO 1-of-3; UMD 3-of-5. Referees — Ryan Hersey, Joe Sullivan. Linesmen — Tony Aronson, Andy Dokken. Att. — 5,568.

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.

(218) 723-5317