Seventh-ranked Minnesota Duluth rallied with a pair of goals in the third period on Friday to tie No. 1 Denver 3-3 in the NCHC opener for both schools at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Junior wing Kobe Roth and sophomore wing Noah Cates scored for the Bulldogs in the third with Cates’ recording the game-tying goal with 31 seconds to play.
UMD sophomore wing Cole Koepke also picked up his first goal of the season while senior wing Liam Finlay scored twice for Denver, which picked up an extra league point by winning a shootout.
Below are Friday’s thumbs up, thumbs down and three stars from News Tribune college hockey reporter Matt Wellens.
Thumbs up to the Bulldogs’ final 20-plus minutes Friday
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they couldn’t finish the job Friday in Duluth as the Pioneers gained the extra NCHC point by winning a sudden-death shootout in the first round following a pair of scoreless OTs.
A 3-3 tie still had to feel like a win for UMD on Friday, though, as the Bulldogs rallied from two goals down — not three like they did a year ago in Denver — after a disastrous opening 20 minutes.
“Our starts are our key. I thought it was huge that we we showed we could come back there in the third period being down two goals,” Roth said. “We had our chances. I think if we get a good start, we’ll be on the right foot.”
Thumbs down to the Bulldogs’ opening 20 minutes
For those of you who worry about these things: Don't. The Bulldogs weren’t celebrating their tie/shootout loss against the Pioneers on Friday night.
That first period, which included Denver jumping out to a 2-0 lead and two Bulldogs being helped off the ice following scary plays — only to return before the intermission — left the team with a sour taste.
That was especially true for coach Scott Sandelin, who pointed out that his team didn’t give the Pioneers their first two goals, but ... .
“We didn’t make it hard on them for the first 45 minutes,” Sandelin said. “Not a good team to do that against. We've got to tighten up, contest a little bit more and play with a little more jam.”
The Bulldogs have fallen behind now in four of their first seven games this season and have failed to win all four of those (0-3-1).
Meanwhile in the Bulldogs’ three wins, they’ve not only scored first, they’ve never trailed. This is a team that historically has been dominant once it gets a lead and the early numbers show that will continue to be their key to success.
“We can’t dig a hole and expect to get out of it every game,” Cates said.
Matt’s Three Stars
3. UMD junior wing Kobe Roth: A goal and an assist for the Warroad native, who finally got his team to breakthrough on the power play in the third.
2. UMD junior defenseman Scott Perunovich: He finished with two assists, both in the third, and made what Cates called an “unbelievable” pass to set up the game-tying extra-attacker goal.
1. DU senior wing Liam Finlay: He scored the first and third goals of the night for Denver.