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College men's hockey: UMD wins Game 1 on Swaney OT goal

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Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth players celebrate after Nick Swaney (23) scored the game-winning overtime goal during Friday's NCHC quarterfinal round game at Amsoil Arena. 2 / 12
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth's Noah Cates (21) watches as a shot from Nick Swaney goes in against Nebraska-Omaha in overtime during Friday's NCHC quarterfinal round at Amsoil Arena. UMD won 2-1.3 / 12
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth goaltender Hunter Shepard (32) makes a save against Nebraska-Omaha during Friday's NCHC playoff game at Amsoil Arena. 4 / 12
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Noah Cates (21) of Minnesota Duluth tries to put the puck on goal against Nate Knoepke (7) and Evan Weninger (35) of Nebraska-Omaha during Friday's NCHC playoff game at Amsoil Arena. 5 / 12
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth teammates Kobe Roth (10) and Billy Exell (16) control the puck against Steven Spinner (26) of Nebraska-Omaha during Friday's NCHC playoff game at Amsoil Arena. 6 / 12
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Matt Anderson (3) controls the puck near Minnesota Duluth teammate Jade Miller (26) and Nebraska-Omaha's Steven Spinner (26) during Friday's NCHC playoff game at Amsoil Arena. 7 / 12
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Nebraska-Omaha's Kevin Conley (10) scores on Hunter Shepard (32) of Minnesota Duluth in the final minute of the third period during Friday's NCHC playoff game at Amsoil Arena. 8 / 12
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth's Justin Richards (19) shoots the puck on goal against Lawson McDonald (8) and Evan Weninger (35) of Nebraska-Omaha during Friday's NCHC playoff game at Amsoil Arena. 9 / 12
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth's Noah Cates (21) celebrates a Nick Swaney goal in overtime against Nebraska-Omaha during Friday's NCHC quarterfinal round at Amsoil Arena. UMD won 2-1. 10 / 12
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Minnesota Duluth's Hunter Shepard (32) reacts to Nebraska-Omaha scoring a goal to tie the game in the final minute of play during Friday's NCHC playoff game at Amsoil Arena. 11 / 12
Minnesota Duluth's Hunter Shepard (32) makes a save against Nebraska-Omaha during Friday's NCHC playoff game at Amsoil Arena. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com12 / 12

According to Minnesota Duluth sophomore wing Nick Swaney, “a goal is a goal.”

That couldn’t have been further from the truth Friday at Amsoil Arena, however, as the goal Swaney scored came with 6:18 remaining in overtime to give the second-seeded Bulldogs a 2-1 win over seventh-seeded Nebraska-Omaha in Game 1 of a best-of-three NCHC quarterfinal series.

Swaney initially dished to UMD junior center Jade Miller on the rush, but Miller — who picked up an assist on the play to extend his point streak to six games — quickly sent the puck back in Swaney’s direction. The pass skipped off the skate of a Maverick defender and Swaney patiently waited to swat the puck in.

“I knew it was coming at me slow and I knew (the defender) didn’t know where the puck was so I kind of wanted to wait so he didn’t have time to pressure me,” Swaney said of his 14th goal of the season. “I just waited for a second and luckily it paid off.

“It was rolling so it helped me get underneath it and get a little height under it.”

Omaha sophomore wing Kevin Conley tied the game at 1-1 with 55.8 seconds left in regulation via a rebound and clean faceoff win by the Mavs after they burned their timeout. Senior goaltender Evan Weninger, who finished with 39 saves, was on the bench for an extra attacker.

Bulldogs junior goaltender Hunter Shepard made 27 saves a day after being named a semifinalist for the Mike Richter Award — given to the national goaltender of the year — and a finalist for the NCHC Player of the Year.

Shepard only had to make two stops in OT, though, as UMD moved within a win of its fourth straight NCHC Frozen Faceoff appearance.

“It was playoff hockey for sure,” said coach Scott Sandelin, whose Bulldogs will go for the sweep in Game 2 at 7:07 p.m. today. “I thought our overall 60 minutes needs to be better. We found a way to grind it out and get a big goal in overtime. Give (Omaha) credit. It’s what we expect. They are going to come in here. They are playing hard and want to keep playing, too. They made a great play on the tying goal. Overtime was back and forth and, fortunately, Swaney found the net.”

UMD junior wing Riley Tufte put the Bulldogs on top 3:31 into the second period, coming off the bench on a change to extend his scoring streak to four goals in four games. He was set up by senior captain Parker Mackay, who hit the breaks on his attack into the Omaha zone before cutting to the top of the right faceoff circle. From there Mackay slung a pass to the top of the left where Tufte was waiting to fire the puck.

“Parker had good patience there and slid it over to me. I just tried to get it off as quick as I could because the defender was right there and his stick was right there,” Tufte said of his ninth goal of the season. “It was a good goal for me.

“The shift before I was out there with (Peter Krieger) and Kriegs lost a puck, but I saw that same opening. I tried to find that again and it was there.”

The Bulldogs and Mavericks were scoreless after the first. UMD took a pair of too-many-players-on-the-ice penalties in the opening 10 minutes, with the second coming while the Bulldogs were in the Mavericks’ zone on the power play. UMD killed both of those penalties, plus a holding call against sophomore defenseman Mikey Anderson late in the first.

“We just kind of came out slow. We weren’t ready to play,” Swaney said of the first period. “That’s something that can’t happen. It’s playoff hockey now and we got to focus on playing a full 60 minutes. That means coming out of the jump ready to go.”

UMD’s All-NCHC first-team defenseman Scott Perunovich was held out of Game 1 due to an injury he continues to battle. Perunovich missed the March 1 game against Miami in Duluth before playing the last three games of the regular season. He’s been in and out of practice the past few weeks.

Omaha 0-0-1-0—0

Minn. Duluth 0-1-0-1—1

First period — No scoring. Penalties — Bench minor, UMD (too many players on the ice), 2:57; Chayse Primeau, UNO (tripping), 6:29; Bench minor, UMD (too many players on the ice), 8:24; Lukas Buchta, UNO (holding), 15:36; Ryan Jones, UNO (roughing), 17:08; Justin Richards, UMD (roughing), 17:08; Mikey Anderson, UMD (holding), 18:58.

Second period — 1. UMD, Riley Tufte 9 (Parker Mackay, Dylan Samberg), 3:31. Penalties — Taylor Ward, UNO (high sticking), 0:27.

Third period — 2. UNO, Kevin Conley 6 (Ryan Jones, Tyler Weiss), 19:04 (ea). Penalties — Cole Koepke, UMD (holding), 1:16; Jordan, UNO (holding), 3:09.

Overtime — 3. UMD, Nick Swaney 14 (Jade Miller, Mikey Anderson), 13:42. Penalties — None

Shots on goal — UNO 9-8-9-8—41; UMD 9-10-14-2—28. Goalies — Evan Weninger, UNO (41 shots-39 saves); Hunter Shepard, UMD (28-27). Power plays — UNO 0-of-4; UMD 0-of-4. Referees — Scott Bokal, Timm Walsh. Linesmen — Jeff Schultz, Sterling Egan. Att. — 3,257.

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
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