The brooms were out in full force for Minnesota Duluth’s hockey programs against Twin Cities foes this weekend.

The Bulldogs men improved to 12-1-1 in their last 14 games against Minnesota by sweeping the Golden Gophers via a 5-3 win on Friday in Minneapolis and a 2-1 victory on Saturday at a sold out Amsoil Arena in Duluth.

The UMD women were in Mendota Heights to play their first series against NCAA Division I and WCHA newcomer St. Thomas, winning 3-0 on Saturday and 7-0 on Sunday.

Here’s a look back at last weekend’s Bulldogs hockey action, with the thumbs up, thumbs down and three stars for News Tribune and The Rink Live UMD hockey reporter Matt Wellens.

Minnesota Duluth's Casey Gilling (37) and Tanner Laderoute (13) celebrate Laderoute's goal against Minnesota during the first period on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.  Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota Duluth's Casey Gilling (37) and Tanner Laderoute (13) celebrate Laderoute's goal against Minnesota during the first period on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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Thumbs up

Laderoute leads by example

UMD men’s hockey coach Scott Sandelin and sophomore winger Blake Biondi both described UMD senior wing and assistant captain Tanner Laderoute as the “heart and soul” of the Bulldogs following Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Minnesota that gave UMD the series sweep.

Laderoute was credited with the game’s opening goal after a shot by sophomore defenseman Wyatt Kaiser pinballed off a player or two, hitting Laderoute last before going into the Gophers net.

It was a big goal, but not the play that caught everyone’s attention and inspired teammates. That came in the third period when Laderoute blocked a shot, taking a puck to the side of his knee. He barely made it off the ice and back to the Bulldogs bench and had to be helped back to the UMD locker room.

But Laderoute would return to finish the game, defending the UMD zone and battling through the final minutes as the Gophers unsuccessfully attempted to tie the game with their net empty for an extra attacker.

“That’s what he is. He’s heart and soul,” Sandelin said. “He gets the block, I wasn't sure if he was coming back or not, but that's how he is. He's tough. He epitomizes our team. It was great to have him back in there. He did a great job at the end, even though he's not 100%.”

The Gophers pulled within a goal just moments after Laderoute’s blocked shot, as Mason Nevers made it a 2-1 game with 13:34 to go in regulation. Laderoute said hearing the Gophers celebrate that goal gave him all the motivation he needed to get back out on the ice and finish.

“He's a great leader for our team and he does things like that every night,” Biondi said. “The goal was huge for us but, those blocks and the way he skates, forechecks, just his stick — he's a heart and soul guy. That's why we win games.”

Thumbs down

UMD penalty kill is up and down

Minnesota's Mike Koster (6) celebrates a power play goal against Minnesota Duluth during the first period on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis.  Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota's Mike Koster (6) celebrates a power play goal against Minnesota Duluth during the first period on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Through six games, the Bulldogs penalty kill has been a bit of a roller coaster. At 77.8 percent, having given up four goals on 18 kills, it currently ranks seventh out of eight teams in the NCHC and 33rd nationally.

The penalty kill was perfect on Saturday against the Gophers, going 3-for-3 after giving up four goals in the three previous games. Two of those power-play goals — one against Minnesota and the other during a major penalty against Michigan each of the past two Fridays — came late in the first period when UMD had a lead. Two have tied games, including last Saturday against Providence.

It’s important to note the power play goals given up have come against three of the better teams in the country, and the 18 kills UMD has gone on in six games is third-lowest in the NCHC.

However, after finishing at 75.2 percent on the penalty kill a year ago — seventh in the NCHC and 44th nationally — it’s an area the Bulldogs are looking to improve upon.

“We need to spend more time,” Sandelin said of the penalty kill. “Now that we’ve played some games, these next couple of weeks will be good to work on some things we haven’t spent as much time on, or some things we haven’t spent any time on. It’s a good time to get back and do that.”

Thumbs up

UMD women find scoring depth

Last week I wrote about how if you took away the season-opening 7-0 victory at Minnesota State-Mankato from the ledger of the UMD women’s hockey team, then nine of the Bulldogs' 12 goals and 23 of their 33 total points would have come from just three players — the top line of senior center Gabbie Hughes and fifth-year senior wingers Anna Klein and Elizabeth Giguere.

Well this weekend at St. Thomas, the Bulldogs diversified their scoring.

Hughes, Giguere and Klein still found the scoresheet — combining for three goals and five assists — but were not the leaders this weekend for UMD against the Tommies. They only accounted for three of the 10 total goals, in fact.

Three different players — sophomore wing Clara Van Wieren, senior center Kylie Hanley and freshman wing Gabby Krause — scored their first goals of the season. Van Wieren finished the series with three goals, Hanley had two goals and an assist, and Krause had a goal and an assist.

Redshirt senior wing Naomi Rogge also had a good weekend offensively with a goal and two assists on Sunday.

“I’m sure they have a lot of confidence coming out of this (series),” Crowell said of the diversity on the scoresheet Sunday. “It’s exactly what we’re looking for. That’s the depth we want to have as a team.”

Three Stars

3. UMD sophomore wing Clara Van Wieren — After tallying three assists in her first six games, Van Wieren put up three goals against the Tommies this weekend, including the first two goals of the game Sunday. Her six points in eight games puts her over halfway to last year’s total of 11 in 17 games.

2. UMD sophomore wing Blake Biondi — With two goals and an assist this weekend against the rival Gophers, the Hermantown native has emerged as the team’s leading scorer with team-highs of three goals and six points in six games.

“Every game he gets better,” Sandelin said. “It's nice to see him putting the puck in the net, too, because that's what he does. He gets that feeling, hopefully it'll keep coming and he continues to score.”

1. UMD junior goaltender Ryan Fanti — The Bulldogs were without sophomore goaltender Zach Stejskal this weekend against Minnesota, so Fanti got both starts. He made 18 saves on 21 shots Friday at Mariucci and 28 saves on 29 shots Saturday at Amsoil Arena in a game where both Sandelin and Minnesota coach Bob Motzko said that Fanti was the difference-maker.

“I said it to my staff, ‘I'm glad he showed up tonight, because we needed him,’” Sandelin said Saturday.

Fanti is now 4-0 with a .926 save percentage and 1.75 goals against average in his four starts.

Minnesota Duluth goaltender Ryan Fanti (39) makes a save against Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.  Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota Duluth goaltender Ryan Fanti (39) makes a save against Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Up next

Both UMD men’s and women’s programs are on the bye this week. The men will return Nov. 5-6 to open NCHC play at Western Michigan while the women are off for three weeks while senior goaltender Emma Soderberg (Sweden) and sophomore defenseman Nina Jobst-Smith (Germany) take part in Olympic qualifying in Europe. The next series for the Bulldogs women is a WCHA series Nov. 19-20 at Bemidji State.