For the opening 15 minutes of Friday’s second semifinal of the Ice Breaker Tournament at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, it was the team with seven total NHL draft picks — Minnesota Duluth — dominating the team with seven selections from the first round alone — Michigan.

But then the Bulldogs lost their captain, senior wing Noah Cates, en route to losing the game 5-1 to the Wolverines before a crowd of 5,940 who were hoping to see an all-Minnesota final on Saturday.

Instead the No. 3 Wolverines will take on No. 1-ranked Minnesota State at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Ice Breaker Tournament championship at Amsoil Arena while No. 5 UMD and No. 10 Providence battle in the 7:37 p.m. consolation game following a 5-2 win for the Mavs over the Friars in the first semifinal Friday.

“In the first part of the game, we weren’t giving them much room, and then we missed coverages and fell asleep,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said. “You can’t do that against this team. You have to be aware of their guys. Close isn’t good enough.”

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Cates, in his second season as captain, was ejected from Friday’s game — and now awaits supplemental discipline from the NCHC — for a retaliatory elbow that caught the head of Michigan senior captain Nick Blankenburg at 15:16 of the first period. The two had been battling for position in front of the Wolverines net and then for the puck behind the cage on a shift late in the period.

There was an initial collision between the two captains behind the net, followed by Blankenburg shoving Cates into the boards. Then came the high elbow from Cates that got him a contact to the head major and game misconduct.

At the time of the major penalty on Cates, the Bulldogs led 1-0 off a goal by senior center Jesse Jacques 10:04 into the game. Shots were 13-5 in favor of UMD, which put the first nine shots on goal before Michigan finally got a puck on UMD sophomore goaltender Zach Stejskal 11:09 in.

After Cates departed the game, Michigan outshot the Bulldogs 24-16 and outscored them 5-0, getting goals from a trio of first-round draft picks to take a 3-1 lead into the third period.

Minnesota Duluth forward Noah Cates (21) controls the puck during the first period on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota Duluth forward Noah Cates (21) controls the puck during the first period on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Freshman defenseman Luke Hughes (2021, No. 4 overall, New Jersey Devils) tied the game on the major power play with less than a minute to play before the first intermission. Sophomore forwards Brendan Brisson (2020, No. 29, Vegas Golden Knights) and Matty Beniers (2021, No. 2, Seattle Kraken) added goals in the second.

Senior wing and assistant captain Tanner Laderoute said Hughes’ goal was the turning point of the game. UMD had killed off four-plus minutes of the major, but then “crumbled” after the game-tying power play goal.

“We need to face adversity a little bit better,” Laderoute said. “We let the whole bench drop and be like, ‘Oh, they scored.’ We should have been more happy than sad, honestly, with that kind of power play and only letting one in five minutes. We need to learn from that.”

Added fifth-year senior Matt Anderson: “We should be pretty content with letting up one goal in five minutes against that power play. We just didn’t respond right.”

Michigan goaltender Erik Portillo (1) covers up a shot from Minnesota Duluth forward Blake Biondi (7) during the first period on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Michigan goaltender Erik Portillo (1) covers up a shot from Minnesota Duluth forward Blake Biondi (7) during the first period on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

UMD went 8:21 without a shot on goal during the second period, with just a single shot attempt during that span. The Bulldogs only had six shot attempts and two shots on goal for the first 16-plus minutes of the second.

Down only two, the Bulldogs had a chance to get back within one early in the third period following a boarding penalty Michigan senior wing Nolan Moyle, but instead UMD went three down thanks to a shorthanded breakaway goal by senior center Garrett Van Wyhe.

Like Laderoute, Sandelin said Hughes’ power play goal was the turning point on Friday.

“Our first period was great up until then,” Sandelin said. “We were playing hard, we were on our toes, we got a lead. We didn’t really give them a whole lot, but as good teams do, they carried some momentum with the goal, carried it over to the second and turned the game around in the second period.”

Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin talks to his team on a media timeout during the second period on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin talks to his team on a media timeout during the second period on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Box score

Michigan 1-2-2—5

Minnesota Duluth 1-0-0—1

First period

1. UMD, Jesse Jacques (Kobe Roth, Koby Bender), 10:04

2. UM, Luke Hughes (Michael Pastujov, Mackie Samoskevich), 19:22 (pp)

Second period

3. UM, Brendan Brisson (Thomas Bordeleau), 6:20

4. UM, Matty Beniers (Kent Johnson, Jacob Truscott), 14:44

Third period

5. UM, Garrett Van Wyhe, 3:46 (sh)

6. UM, Beniers (Johnson, Owen Power), 19:14 (pp)

Saves — Erik Portillo, UM, 28; Zach Stejskal, UMD, 24.

Power play — UM 2-3; UMD 0-5. Penalties — UM 5-10; UMD 3-17.