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Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down, Three Stars: How does Fanti's shutout streak compare to ones by Shepard, Kaskisuo?

Bulldogs junior goaltender Ryan Fanti is the third UMD goaltender in six seasons to post three consecutive shutouts.

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Minnesota Duluth goaltender Ryan Fanti (39) stops a shot on goal from Colorado College forward Tyler Coffey (17) on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

The Minnesota Duluth men’s program took five out of six league points from Colorado College over the weekend at Amsoil Arena via a 5-0 victory on Friday and 0-0 overtime tie on Saturday in which the Bulldogs won the shootout.

UMD played last weekend against the Tigers minus three forwards — Luke Loheit, Kyler Kleven and Luke Mylymok — and sophomore goaltender Zach Stejskal. Sophomore defenseman Connor Kelley then missed Saturday’s game with an upper body injury.

Mylymok, a sophomore wing, has been out all season with an injury and isn’t expected back anytime soon. Stejskal also isn’t expected to return to the ice anytime in the near future, which is why the Bulldogs added 22-year-old Brady Anderson of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, to the roster. Anderson, listed as a senior, has been playing with the UMD club hockey team the last few years after playing Tier III junior hockey following high school.

Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin will have updates on Loheit, Kleven and Mylymok during his weekly press conference on Wednesday.

In the meantime, here’s a look back at last weekend’s Bulldogs hockey action via the Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down and Three Stars by hockey reporter Matt Wellens.

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Thumbs up to Ryan Fanti

After making 23 saves for his second-consecutive shutout Friday in the 5-0 victory over the Tigers , Bulldogs junior goaltender Ryan Fanti was asked if he’d ever give up a goal again by longtime hockey scribe John Gilbert.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Fanti said.

Fanti had a similar response Saturday when the question came again after making 26 saves for a third-consecutive shutout in the 0-0 overtime tie , plus three stops on three shots to win the shootout.

“We’re still getting ahead of ourselves,” said Fanti, who added he did get scored on in warmups this weekend.

The last Bulldogs goalie to post three consecutive shutouts in a season was Hunter Shepard, who blanked Miami on back-to-back nights on Feb. 16-17, 2018, at Amsoil Arena, and then Western Michigan on Feb. 23, 2018, at Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, Shepherd shut out the RedHawks and Broncos a combined eight times. His shutout streak in 2017-18 lasted 220:45, which left him short of the UMD record of 263:58 that was racked up by Kasimir Kaskisuo in 2015-16.

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Kaskisuo shut out the competition for 12 straight periods over five games in late November and early December of 2015, including in three-straight shutouts in games against Colorado College and Western Michigan. He averaged 24 saves a night in those shutouts while UMD outscored the opposition by a combined 18-0.

Shepard also averaged 24 saves a night during his three goose eggs in 2017-18 with UMD outsourcing the RedHawks and Broncos by a combined 15-0.

Fanti has averaged 28 saves per night in each of the Bulldogs last three games, with UMD outscoring the Broncos and Tigers by a combined 8-0 in the first two games before the 0-0 OT tie Saturday.

The Thunder Bay native is now one of six Bulldogs goalies to get a shutout in a 0-0 OT tie, joining Nick Deery (10/14/17 vs. Bemidji State), Josh Johnson (3/3/07 vs. Wisconsin), Alex Stalock (11/10/06 at Michigan Tech), Tony Gasparini (2/6/99 at Alaska Anchorage) and Brant Nicklin (2/14/98 vs. Alaska Anchorage).

Fanti said the run he’s on feels good, especially after not playing at all his freshman season while sitting behind Shepard.

“I've always believed in myself and always knew that I was capable of it and always had that confidence,” said Fanti, whose .946 save percentage, 1.35 goals against average and three shutouts leads all NCHC goaltenders with four-plus games played. “I've known that for a while now and it's kind of been building ever since my freshman year. I've developed quite a bit in these last two years and it's nice that we're getting some results here.”

Thumbs down to a scoreless tie

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After lighting up the Tigers for five goals on Friday night while going 3-for-5 on the power play, UMD struggled to gain any traction — according to Sandelin — on Saturday.

The Bulldogs went 0-for-3 on the power play and the shootout goal by UMD senior captain Noah Cates in the opening round was the only score the 6,435 fans at Amsoil Arena saw on Saturday.

“Nobody was great tonight. Nobody, at least from my (perspective), except for Ryan,” Sandelin said after Saturday’s game. “We had a lot of players that were good, but we need better than good, right? And you have to have that. Our team needs at all time.”

The Bulldogs scored their five goals Friday off just 23 shots, with four of the five coming against Tigers sophomore starting goaltender Dominic Basse. He was yanked 30:06 into Friday’s game with just 10 saves, and replaced by junior Matt Vernon, who had yet to play a game in 2021-22.

Vernon gave up a goal on the first shot he faced, but then stopped the next eight he faced Friday and all 30 saw Saturday before finally getting beat by Cates in the shootout.

Against Basse, UMD was able to get the 6-foot-6 Chicago Blackhawks prospect moving, often catching him on one post while the puck and shooter were open on the other post for the score. This was especially true on the power play, where against Basse the Bulldogs were 3-for-4 with seven shots on goal over 3:54.

Against Vernon — the son of former two-time Stanley Cup champion goaltender and 1997 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Mike Vernon — the power play went 0-for-4 with nine shots on goal over 7:10. This time, the open looks were not there in front of the CC net.

“We got to work on certainly getting hungrier around the net to score goals and getting to the net more,” Sandelin said. “I don't know if we thought it was gonna be easy because we scored some (Friday) night around (the net), but it’s never easy and you got to go there hard. You got to go there with a purpose and you got to go there with timing and to get pucks there.”

Three Stars (Alumni edition)

3. Dallas Stars forward Riley Tufte: The two-time national champion at UMD who played in three Frozen Fours in three seasons between 2016 and 2019 made his long awaited NHL debut on Saturday for the Stars in a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Dallas. Tufte, who was draft by Dallas in the first round in 2016 after winning Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award as a senior at Blaine, had a blocked shot in 4:25 of ice time. Tufte is the ninth member of the 2016-17 Bulldogs to play an NHL game.

2. Sweden forward Michelle Lowenhielm: The captain of the Swedish national team who played four years at UMD from 2014-2018 finished with a goal and four assists to help her team clinch a berth in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Sweden, which also included former Bulldogs defenseman Linnea Hedin (goal and two assists) and current goaltender Emma Soderberg (shutout on Saturday), went 3-0 at home to win their Olympic qualifying group. This will be Lowenhielm’s second Olympics and the first for Hedin and Soderberg.

1. Czech Republic forward Katerina Mrazova: At 29, the former Bulldog known at “Katka” scored two goals and four assists in three qualifying wins to lead the Czech Republic to its first appearance in the Winter Olympics. Katka was at UMD for five seasons from 2013-2018, missing all of the college and international 2015-16 season with a knee injury. She’s become one of the top players in the Swedish Hockey League the past two years, and now she’s finally an Olympian.

Up next

The Bulldogs men continue NCHC play this weekend at North Dakota. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. Friday and 6:07 p.m. Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

The UMD women will also be traveling down U.S. Highway 2 to play a WCHA series at Bemidji State at 3:01 p.m. Friday and 2:01 p.m. Saturday. It’s the Bulldogs’ first series since a sweep of St. Thomas on Oct. 23-24. The team was off for three-straight weekends due to a cancelled nonconference series, and then a break for Olympic qualifying.

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The Bulldogs men's program is still searching for its first NCHC sweep halfway through its league schedule. Meanwhile, the women have quickly found a more-than-suitable replacement for Olympian Emma Soderberg while she is in Beijing.
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UMD sophomore goaltender Jojo Chobak followed her 27-save shutout win on Friday with 38 saves on Saturday as she takes over the Bulldogs net from Olympian Emma Soderberg.