UMD men's hockey: Bulldogs miss out on key NCHC points in tie, shootout loss to Omaha

The Mavericks erased a 2-0 deficit with two goals in the third period as UMD was unable to stay out of the penalty box or win key faceoffs in the third.

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Nebraska Omaha players crowd forward Chayse Primeau (13) after he scored in a shootout to determine which team earned an extra point in NCHC standings Wednesday, Dec. 16, at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha. (Tyler Schank /

League-leading Minnesota Duluth was on track for its sixth win of the NCHC Pod on Wednesday at Baxter Arena, but instead of picking up three more points in the standings, the Bulldogs had to settle for just one following a 2-2 overtime tie and shootout loss to host Nebraska Omaha.

Senior wing and assistant captain Nick Swaney scored both of the Bulldogs' goals while sophomore goaltender Ryan Fanti made 26 saves, including a one-on-one stop against Mavericks junior center Chase Primeau late in overtime.

Omaha — whose 5-3 loss on Dec. 1 in the opening game of the Pod was the program’s 10th-straight to UMD — entered the third period facing a 2-0 deficit, but junior wing Tyler Ward tied the game at 2-2 with just under seven minutes to play, putting the puck in off the crossbar.

The Mavs then earned an extra point in the league standings following a 2-1 win in a six-round shootout where UMD caught iron twice.


“Great, I guess I call it a win, for our guys getting those two points and finding a way to battle back in the third period,” said Omaha coach Mike Gabinet, whose team moved into a tie for third in the NCHC on Wednesday with St. Cloud State. “Points are very difficult, as everyone knows in this league. So anytime you can grab an extra one, it’s great for the guys.”

Swaney got the Bulldogs on the board 12 and a half minutes into the first period via a shorthanded attack, one-timing a pass from junior wing and captain Noah Cates. Swaney struck again during the 13th minute of the second after a puck he backhanded toward the Omaha net skipped through.

Prior to the second goal, Swaney lost his linemate, senior wing Kobe Roth, to injury when Roth went into the boards awkwardly after taking a light shove. The play was reviewed for a major penalty, but one wasn’t issued.

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Minnesota Duluth forward Nick Swaney (23) scores on Nebraska Omaha goaltender Isaiah Saville (31) in the second period Wednesday, Dec. 16, at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha. (Tyler Schank /

Roth, with five goals and two assists in eight games, skated off under his own power but did not return to the game Wednesday. Coach Scott Sandelin didn’t have an update on his condition postgame.

The Bulldogs finished the night with just 10 forwards after dressing 12. Sophomore center Luke Loheit received a major penalty and game misconduct for an elbow to the head 2:40 into the third period.


The Mavericks scored seven seconds into the Loheit major via a deflection to pull within one goal, but ended the major a man short after taking a pair of penalties in the final two minutes. UMD failed to capitalize and finished the night 0-for-4 on the power play.

Omaha finished 1-for-6 on the power play with UMD giving the Mavs four advantages in the third period and overtime.

“We came out playing good. Obviously having a two-goal lead going into the third period, it’s tough to give that up,” Swaney said. “We put ourselves in a hole having to kill some penalties. Getting a point any night in the NCHC is good, but we would have liked to get some more.”

Thumbs up to Nick Swaney

Swaney is tied atop the league scoring charts with North Dakota's Shane Pinto. Both recorded two points Wednesday for 12 points now in eight games.

Swaney, a Minnesota Wild prospect, has found the scoresheet in all but two games at Baxter Arena, though he only had one goal in the first seven games. That changed Wednesday.

“For him to get that is great. He’s had a great start for us. He’s been a leader in every sense of the word,” Sandelin said. “It was nice to see him find the net. That’s indicative of how he’s playing and the opportunities he gets. I’m not surprised by it. It was nice because he’s had a lot of assists. He likes to score goals so hopefully that will get him going.”



Swaney’s shorthanded goal Wednesday came off the opening faceoff of a penalty kill in the second. Cates removed the puck from the UMD zone and maneuvered his way into the Mavs’ zone, where Swaney was waiting on the opposite side of the net for a successful one-timer.
While it was his first shorty of the season, it wasn’t the first time Swaney has found himself with a shorthanded scoring chance off a faceoff on the kill. Swaney said opportunities like that all come down to readiness off the draw, something UMD’s penalty kill has been good at in the Pod.

“We have our game plan going into every draw,” Swaney said. “Noah just won a puck battle and made a great play to me. I was fortunate to find the back of the net. … When you get an opportunity to make a play, you have to make the most of it.”

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Minnesota Duluth players celebrate Minnesota Duluth forward Nick Swaney's (23) second goal of the night in the second period against Nebraska Omaha Wednesday, Dec. 16, at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha. (Tyler Schank /

Thumbs down UMD in the faceoff circle

While that second-period faceoff to start the penalty kill went well for UMD, many others did not. The Bulldogs finished the game 21-38 in the faceoff circle, going 6-16 in the third period.

Noah Cates — who won the draw that led to the shorthanded goal (UMD was 4-2 in faceoffs shorthanded) — finished 11-11 as the only Bulldog to get to 50 percent. As Swaney points out, though, faceoffs are not a one-man show.

“It’s a five-man effort,” Swaney said. “Everyone looks at a faceoff and thinks it’s the center’s job to just win it. For us, the wingers need to help, doing whatever you can. If you’re not winning draws, tie up and let your wingers come in to try and get the puck.”


Sandelin said after the game he still needed to look at the numbers and then the film to properly assess his team’s performance on draws. It’s likely Sandelin will not like what he sees, considering both Mavericks goals in the third period came off UNO faceoff wins.

Primeau won a draw clean to start the Loheit major and then got to the center of the net to tip through a shot by junior wing Tyler Weiss. Primeau also won the faceoff that led to the game-tying goal, beating Jesse Jacques to generate a shot off the faceoff and give Omaha possession.

“That’s a crucial part of the possession part of the game,” Swaney said of faceoffs. “It’s an area we’ll clean up and for sure get better at it.”

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Minnesota Duluth goaltender Ryan Fanti (39) saves the puck in the second period against Nebraska Omaha Wednesday, Dec. 16, at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha. (Tyler Schank /

Matt’s Three Stars

3. UMD senior wing Nick Swaney — Two goals for the Bulldogs on Wednesday after scoring on in his first seven games in Omaha.

2. UNO junior wing Taylor Ward — Tied the game going bar-down with 6:33 to go in regulation.

1. UNO junior center Chayse Primeau — Finished with a goal and an assist, plus the winning goal in the sixth round of the shootout.



Nebraska Omaha 0-0-2-0—2
Minnesota Duluth 1-1-0-0—2

Omaha wins shootout 2-1 in six rounds

First period

1. UMD, Nick Swaney 2 (Noah Cates, Matt Cairns), 12:36 (sh)

Second period

2. UMD, Swaney 3 (Quinn Olson, Wyatt Kaiser), 12:38

Third period

3. UNO, Chayse Primeau 3 (Tyler Weiss), 2:47 (pp)


4. UNO, Waylor Ward 3 (Primeau), 13:27


No scoring.

Saves — Isaiah Saville, UNO, 11-8-8-2—29; Ryan Fanti, UMD, 5-7-12-2—26.

Power play — UNO 1-6; UMD 0-6. Penalties — UNO 6-12; UMD 7-27.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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