UMD men's hockey: Swaney registers hat trick, 100th point in Bulldogs' win over St. Cloud State

Minnesota Duluth snapped a three-game losing streak by scoring three goals in the first period. Two of the three came from senior wing Nick Swaney.

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Minnesota Duluth forward Nick Swaney (23) scores on St. Cloud State goaltender David Hrenak (34) in the first period Saturday, Feb. 27, at Amsoil Arena. (Tyler Schank /

Minnesota Duluth put its offensive woes out to pasture early Saturday with a trio first period goals to vanquish its three-game losing streak via a 5-1 victory over St. Cloud State in NCHC play at Amsoil Arena.

Senior wing Nick Swaney scored two of the three first-period goals for the Bulldogs, who wrap the regular season at 1:07 p.m. next Saturday against the Huskies in St. Cloud. Senior wing Kobe Roth had the other, with all three coming within four and a half minutes of each other.

Swaney, the Minnesota Wild prospect, finished the Bulldogs’ Senior Night with three goals, completing a hat trick 13:38 into the second period to also nab himself his 100th career point in 129 career games as a Bulldog.

“He was outstanding. He’s had a great year for us. He’s arguably been our best player. His numbers prove it,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said of Swaney. “He’s been a good leader, he’s vocal and tonight he was great. He got rewarded.”


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Minnesota Duluth forward Nick Swaney (23) celebrates his third goal of the game and 100th career point in the second period on St. Cloud State on Saturday, Feb. 27, at Amsoil Arena. (Tyler Schank /

All five Bulldogs goals Saturday came from their senior class, with Cloquet native and senior wing Koby Bender — who set up Roth in the slot with a nifty pass in the first period — icing the game with an empty-net goal in the third period. He was set up by Roth, who could have scored the empty netter himself, but said he was returning Bender the favor for the goal in the first.

“He’s set me up for a lot of back door goals this year,” Roth said.

Roth, Bender, junior center Jackson and junior center Noah Cates all finished the night with two points for UMD.

Saturday could have been the final game at Amsoil Arena for many of those players — the NCAA has granted everyone an extra year of eligibility this season because of COVID-19, if they want it — but that wasn’t the primary motivation to step things up Saturday. Roth and Swaney said they were driven more by the urge to end the three-game losing streak that had been lingering over their heads for more than a week.

“That’s the first step, it’s a good step,” Roth said of Saturday’s win. “We knew how huge this game was coming off those losses.”


Bulldogs freshman goaltender Zach Stejskal made 24 saves on 25 shots in his sixth start of the season.

Huskies starting goaltender David Hrenak was pulled from the game after Swaney made it 4-1 in the second. Hrenak finished with 21 saves on 25 shots while his replacement, sophomore Jaxson Caster, stopped all eight shots he faced in relief.

UMD, sitting third in the NCHC at 42 points, now heads to St. Cloud next Saturday with a chance to take second place away from the Huskies, who have 43 league points. North Dakota has already clinched the NCHC regular season championship, doing so a week ago. Neither the Bulldogs nor the Huskies can slip below third in the NCHC, with Omaha locked into fourth at 38 points.

“We knew we needed to change things,” Swaney said of ending the losing streak. “We had a long week, worked on a bunch of things. We know it’s tough every single night when it comes down to it. We just have to do whatever it takes and we did that tonight. It puts us in a good position going into St. Cloud next weekend.”

Thumbs up to the Bulldogs’ opening 20 minutes

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Minnesota Duluth forward Nick Swaney (23) and defenseman Connor Kelley (25) celebrate Swaney's goal on St. Cloud State in the first period Saturday, Feb. 27, at Amsoil Arena. (Tyler Schank /

Sandelin had no complaints, only compliments, for his team’s first period Saturday.

The three goals were nice, but what the coach liked even more was how his team got those three goals.


“Scoring was great, but I just liked the way we played. We didn’t look like we had lost three games,” Sandelin said. “We played with a lot of confidence. Our puck poise was good. We made some really good plays. We got to the net and got rewarded with some bounces and goals. We’ve talked about that all week.”

Getting pucks and bodies to the net was a major emphasis for UMD after scoring just two goals in its previous three games — 4-0 and 4-1 losses Feb. 12-13 at Western Michigan and last Thursday’s 2-1 home loss to Colorado College.

For Sandelin, the offensive struggles go back even further than the losing streak, though, to the 3-1 win over Miami on Feb. 6 in Duluth. The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the first period, but allowed Miami to tie the game at 1-1 in the second. Cole Koepke scored the game-winner that night midway through the third period and the final goal was an empty-netter.

A similar scenario played out last Thursday with UMD leading Colorado College 1-0 in the second before the Tigers rallied with two goals in the third to upset the Bulldogs.

UMD never gave the Huskies a chance to rally on Saturday.

“It was great to get the lead and build on the lead, which we didn’t do really in the Miami game or CC game,” Sandelin said. “We made them chase the game. It was a good, good first period. It was something we needed badly to get the lead. I liked how we got the lead, I liked how we played. It carried over to the next 40 minutes.”

Thumbs down to the penalty kill

The Huskies made it interesting momentarily by pulling within two of the Bulldogs 6:15 into the second after SCSU sophomore wing Zach Okabe scored on the power play. It’s the sixth power-play goal UMD has given up in 12 kills over the last four games. The Huskies finished 1-for-3 on the power play Saturday.

Sandelin said he didn’t like the penalty that led to the power play — hooking by sophomore center Like Loheit — because it gave the Huskies life after not having any after a dominating first period by UMD.


He didn’t like the goal either, with it coming in the middle of the offensive zone.

Despite all that, the coach believes Saturday was a night his penalty kill can build on.

Heck, UMD almost scored shorthanded in the third , but the goal was disallowed.

“I think they got a lot of things right,” Sandelin said of the penalty kill Saturday. “Sometimes when it rains, it pours. I don’t want our killers to feel bad. I think they did a really good job. We had some good pressure up the rink and they did a good job except for that shot. We’ll keep working on it. They should get some confidence from it tonight.”

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Minnesota Duluth forward Noah Cates (21) attempts a wraparound goal on St. Cloud State goaltender David Hrenak (34) in the first period Saturday, Feb. 27, at Amsoil Arena. (Tyler Schank /

Matt’s Three Stars

3. UMD senior wing Kobe Bender — He scored an empty-netter, but his more impressive play was the assist/pass to set up Roth in the first.

2. UMD senior wing Kobe Roth — He made it 3-0 off the pass from Bender in the first, and then assisted Bender on the empty-netter.


1. UMD senior wing Nick Swaney — His three goals Saturday now have him two goals back of North Dakota’s Shane Pinto for the league-high. He’s one point back of Pinto for the scoring title as well, with 13 goals and 14 assists this season.

Bulldog Bites

The Bulldogs and Huskies were supposed to wrap up their regular seasons this weekend, playing Friday in St. Cloud and Saturday in Duluth. However, Sandelin said he and Huskies head coach Brett Larson — the Duluth native and former UMD assistant under Sandelin — did not want all of next weekend off before playing the single-elimination NCHC Frozen Faceoff March 12-16 in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

  • Four players — Easton Brodzinski and Micah Miller for SCSU and Luke Loheit and Wyatt Kaiser for UMD — were sent to the locker rooms early Saturday after scuffles with less than a minute to play. Brodzinski and Loheit received minor penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct while Miller and Kaiser received 10-minute misconducts for the same offense. Saturday was the fifth meeting of the season between the Bulldogs and Huskies, with SCSU still holding a 3-2 advantage in the season series.

Box score

St. Cloud State 0-1-0—1

Minnesota Duluth 3-1-1—5

First period

1. UMD, Nick Swaney 11 (Quinn Olson), 11:43

2. UMD, Swaney 4 (Noah Cates, Matt Anderson), 14:27

3. UMD, Kobe Roth 11 (Koby Bender, Jackson Cates), 16:05


Second period

4. SCSU. Zach Okabe 4 (Spencer Meier, Seamus Donohue), 6:15 (pp)

5. UMD, Swaney 13 (N. Cates), 13:38

Third period

6. UMD, Bender 4 (Roth, Jackson Cates)

Saves — David Hrenak, SCSU, 10-11-X—21; Jaxson Carter, SCSU, X-2-6—8; Zach Stejskal, UMD, 4-6-14—24.

Power play — SCSU 1-3; UMD 0-3. Penalties — SCSU 5-26; UMD 5-18.

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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