GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Third-ranked Minnesota Duluth was upset by unranked North Dakota for a second time this season, losing 4-1 on Friday in NCHC play at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Sophomore wing Nick Swaney scored the Bulldogs lone goal. UMD was 9-0 when Swaney scored prior to Friday night.
Below are the thumbs up and thumbs down from Friday's loss by News Tribune college hockey writer Matt Wellens, plus his three stars of the night.
Thumbs up to Dylan Samberg
The night of Bulldogs sophomore defenseman Dylan Samberg can be summed up by a series of events midway through the third period when he went from taking a shot to defending a two-on-one rush without a stick.
Samberg attempted a blast from the blue line, but his stick snapped in half. That led to the two-on-one rush by North Dakota that Samberg himself was forced to defend minus his stick.
Samberg was able to spoil the rush and keep North Dakota from even getting a shot off by taking a tripping penalty. He waited until the very last second to resort to what was a very desperate measure - once it was apparent that help was not coming in time - and the move paid off. The Bulldogs killed off the Samberg penalty to remain within two.
Like that sequence, Samberg's night started off rough. He turned the puck over in the UMD zone in the opening minute, leading to the Hawks first goal of the night. He then got beat along the boards on a shorthanded North Dakota rush, resulting in the second Hawks goal.
By the third, Samberg had recovered with as good of a stickless defense as anyone could ask for on the two-on-one North Dakota rush. He also had a nice poke check and steal in the third that allowed UMD to break into the UND zone.
There wasn't a lot of positives for the Bulldogs Friday in their 4-1 loss, but Samberg's bounced back in the third sure is a good sign going into Saturday's series finale. If everyone from UMD can bounce back like that, UMD will be in good shape.
Thumbs down to UMD's second period
The Bulldogs were facing a goaltender on Friday who was not only returning from injury, but playing in his first regular season game in almost three months.
Hawks sophomore goalie Peter Thome hasn't played a regular season game since Nov. 30. That was when he gave up five goals on 23 shots and was pulled 13:45 into the second period of a 5-0 loss at UMD.
His only action since then was playing 16-plus minutes in the third period of an exhibition against the U.S. National Team Development Program's Under-18 squad.
So what did the Bulldogs do to test a shaky, rusty goaltender?
UMD attempted only 41 shots and put a mere 22 on Thome. The worst was in the second period when the Bulldogs attempted eight shots and got just three on Thome.
The second period was when UMD needed to bombard Thome. As rough as the first period was, the Bulldogs had Thome scrambling. Swaney's goal 1:25 in was not the exception. It was the rule in the first 20 minutes.
By the time the third period rolled around, Thome had settled in. While by no means perfect, he was able to muster 11 saves to preserve the win.
"We didn't support the puck, we didn't establish anything," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. "They did a good job defending. I'm not shocked by it. When you don't support pucks, you don't play the game North and you don't get pucks behind (the net), we spent a lot of time standing still. When we did get pucks in, we had guys standing still and we couldn't forecheck."
Matt's Three Stars
3. UND junior wing Casey Johnson: The Grand Forks native put the Hawks up 3-1 with just his second goal of the season.
2. UND senior center Rhett Gardner: It initially looked like Gardner was just taking the puck shorthanded in the UMD zone to kill off the final seconds of a Bulldogs power play. Instead he was able to win a battle along the boards and set up a key shorthanded goal.
1. UND senior defenseman Hayden Shaw: He scored the game winner shorthanded thanks to a nice feed by Gardner