Sixth-ranked Minnesota Duluth finished off a series sweep of Nebraska-Omaha via a 4-1 victory on Saturday before a crowd of 6,642 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Senior goaltender Hunter Shepard made 31 saves while Justin Richards, Tanner Laderoute, Jade Miller and Cole Koepke scored for the Bulldogs.
The turning point of Saturday’s win came in the closing seconds of the second period via a diving stick save by Shepard that led to a breakaway goal by Laderoute.
Below are the thumbs up and thumbs down from Saturday’s win by News Tribune college hockey writer Matt Wellens, plus his three stars of the night.
Thumbs up to the final 25 seconds of the second period
Nine seconds changed the course of Saturday’s game at Amsoil Arena.
Here is how it played out, with Zach Schneider of My 9 Sports on the call:
And here’s another look that includes Shepard’s incredible save in slow motion.
Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin called it, “Crazy.”
“It’s hockey, right? It’s weird,” Sandelin said. “I thought for sure that one was going in and the next thing you know, we’ve got a breakaway and Tanner makes a great play and scores.
Shepard said it was the turning point in the game.
“We probably should have been down 2-1 but instead we’re up 2-1,” Shepard said. “We picked it up and played a good third period.”
Whatever you want to call that nine seconds of insanity, is was without a doubt the highlight of the 2019-20 season for the Bulldogs thus far, and may very well go down as one of the legendary moments in UMD’s quest for three-straight national championships.
Isn’t sports fun?
Thumbs down to the first 19:35 of the second period
Sandelin said the third period was his team’s best period on Saturday and while the final seconds of the second were exciting — to say the least — in the coach’ words, “the second period was not very good.”
“I’m not sure what we were doing,” Sandelin said of the second. “I don’t want to say it was all us. They were playing hard and they were coming. They made us look that way. We got out of structure, we were running around, we didn’t make plays. They were pressuring pucks. They were certainly the better team in the second period. They could have taken a lead in the period the way they played.”
Richards gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the second, scoring just 1:54 in. However, the Mavericks tied the game at the 5:10 mark and controlled things from there.
Statistically, the second period was pretty even with UMD winning the faceoff battle 9-7. Shot attempts were 26-25 in favor of UMD, while Omaha got more on net 14-13.
Still, it felt like a period UMD really needed to just get out of tied 1-1. Then, regroup during the second intermission and try to get things buzzing again in the third.
Turns out all UMD had to do was get to the final 25 seconds of the period.
“It was a lift we needed,” Sandelin said of Shepard’s save and Laderoute’s goal to close the second, before the coach shared his words in the locker room during the second intermission. “I told our guys we had two things going for us right now. We have 32, he played great. And we have 13’s goal. So let’s make sure we try and build off that.”
Matt’s Three Stars
3. UMD senior defenseman Nick Wolff: Wolff was the one who got the puck to Laderoute for the breakaway on the other end of the rink. According to Laderoute, Wolff originally tried to get the puck to the back corner after Shepard made the stick save, but whiffed and then saw Laderoute making a run.
2. UMD sophomore wing Tanner Laderoute: He finished with the game-winning goal and set up senior center Jade Miller for his first goal of the season early in the third period.
1. UMD senior goaltender Hunter Shepard: A 31-save night for the Cohasset native, though everyone is only talking about “The One” he made with the blade of his stick late in the second. People will be talking about that save for some time.