OMAHA, Neb. — No. 14-ranked Minnesota Duluth outscored No. 18 Nebraska-Omaha 4-2 during a wild third period on Friday to prevail 6-3 in NCHC play at Baxter Arena.
Noah Cates finished with two goals and an assist while his fellow sophomore wing Cole Koepke scored twice in the third. Junior wing Nick Swaney returned from injury and tallied a key goal and key assist.
Below are Friday’s thumbs up, thumbs up and three stars from News Tribune college hockey reporter Matt Wellens.
Thumbs up to the Bulldogs even-strength offense
Much of the Bulldogs offense this season has come from special teams, specifically the power play. Going into the weekend, 18 of UMD’s 37 goals were via the power play, including 11 of 21 in six NCHC games. Six of the nine goals UMD scored two weeks ago in the NCHC sweep of Colorado College were power play goals.
On Friday in Omaha, all six of the Bulldogs’ goals came at even strength. Five were during five-on-five and another four-on-four.
“The power play has been good early in the year, but scoring five-on-five, getting those chances, getting momentum that way, it’s huge,” Cates said. “You can’t rely on your power play late in the season to get you goals, get you chances. It’s huge getting those five-on-five chances and bearing down on those chances.”
Koepke said the key Friday to the Bulldogs' success at even strength was just playing simple, like him taking the shot rather than trying to dish off on his two-on-one rushes in the third.
“We had a lead and at that point, anytime you can get a shot on net (you take it),” Koepke said. “If it doesn't go in, it creates a second opportunity. I didn’t think we needed to make any cute or fancy passes at that time.”
Then there was the goal by junior defenseman Louie Roehl in the third. That was a good example, too, Koepke said.
“Look at Louie’s goal,” Koepke said. “Just a simple brush, pull up, go D-to-D and get it on net. There’s a screen and it gets through.”
Thumbs down to the Bulldogs power play
Meanwhile on the power play, the Bulldogs were the exact opposite, and it cost them a chance to run away with the game in the second period instead of the third.
“We’re not shooting the puck enough,” Sandelin said. “We’re getting too fancy. We’re making it hard on ourselves. We need more of a shooting and attack mentality. Right now we’re getting too fancy.”
UMD finished 0-for-3 on the power play, with all three chances coming in the second.
UMD was on the power play for a total of 7 minutes and 37 seconds in the second, too, thanks to the Mavs taking a boarding major — resulting in the ejection of junior wing Kevin Conley — 25 seconds into the period and back-to-back minors in the later half of the period. UMD, which outshot Omaha 14-4 in the second, got just one shot on goal during the major, which was cut short by 1:23 via a too-many-players penalty.
Matt’s Three Stars
3. UMD junior wing Nick Swaney: Back from injury, he tallied the go-ahead goal and an assist.
2. UMD sophomore wing Cole Koepke: Two big goals in the third period to put UMD ahead 4-2 and 5-3. They came less than a minute apart.
1. UMD sophomore wing Noah Cates: Two goals to bring his season total to nine, plus an assist for a three-point night.