DULUTH, MINN. — Minnesota-Duluth pumped in two late power-play goals, including one in overtime, en route to a 4-3 comeback win over No. 15 Rensselaer
Mark Carlson blasted the game-winner, with a 60-foot slapshot from the right point at the halfway mark of the extra session. The goal came just 17 seconds after RPI’s Danny Eberly was called for hooking UMD’s Nick Anderson, as Anderson led a rush into the offensive zone.
Judd Medak added two goals for the Bulldogs (3-2-0, 0-2-0 WCHA), including the game-tying goal late in the third, and assisted on Carlson’s game-winner.
“We showed character,” said Medak, the team’s captain. “We showed we’re not gonna give up, we’ve got guys who are gonna put it on the line. We could have easily packed it in.”
Special teams played a big part throughout the game. Duluth wound up converting two of its seven opportunities, while RPI (1-2-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) was one-for-five with the man-advantage. On the season, UMD has converted 10 of its 30 power plays.
Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen said the penalties wound up hurting his team. “For a team on the road, we opened ourselves up to too many penalties.”
The biggest wound occurred in overtime when Danny Eberly was called for hooking Nick Anderson, as he led a rush into the RPI zone.
Moments later, Carlson scored after trading passes with fellow blueliner Andy Reierson.
“We got it set up, and moved it around,” said Carlson. “We wanted to make sure we got the best shot.”
The goal capped a see-saw battle between two teams that played to overtime against each other for the first time since they faced off in the 1985 NCAA semi-finals. RPI won that game, 6-5, and wound up winning the national title the following night.
Rensselaer took control early on Friday night, jumping on the scoreboard in the opening minutes. Taking advantage of a Bulldog penalty, the Engineers sustained pressure in the UMD zone. It paid off when Matt Murley scored his third goal of the year on a backhand as he skated in toward the net from the left wing at the 2:51 mark.
UMD turned things around during a 1:44 span in which the teams skated 4-on-4. The opportunity presented itself 16 seconds into RPI’s second power play. With Neil Petruic in the box for UMD, Carson Butterwick negated his team’s man-advantage situation when he was whistled for interference. Duluth took advantage of the open ice to score two of the quickest goals in program history.
Jon Francisco tied it when he scored on a mid-air deflection of a Tim Hambly shot from the right point at 11:52. Then, off the ensuing faceoff, Medak crashed the net and knocked the puck past goaltender Nathan Marsters, just ten seconds later, to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. The goals came four seconds short of tying the team record for fastest consecutive goals, set in 1985 against Michigan Tech.
“I was just happy we got four-on-four goals,” said Bulldog head coach Scott Sandelin. “It doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s something that can be overlooked. We haven’t been very good four-on-four. Those are hard-workin’ goals…[but] the first week we didn’t work on four-on-four, we score two goals.”
UMD carried the 2-1 lead into the second period and continued to control play offensively. In fact, the Bulldogs registered the middle session’s first ten shots, but failed to get anything past Marsters. Many of the shots were at point-blank range, including three on one shift by Steve Rodberg, but most ended up in the goalie’s mid-section. Overall, Duluth outshot RPI by a count of 42-38.
Despite the barrage of shots by UMD, RPI ended up getting the next goal. Chris Migliore tied the score in what looked to be an accident. The senior skated toward the Duluth net as Jim Henkel wound up for a shot from the left point. Migliore ended up in between Henkel and the Duluth goal just in time to get his stick on the shot to deflect it past Adam Coole.
The scored remained 2-2 through most of the third period. RPI fired up its offensive engines and dominated most of the final 20 minutes. Coole faced seven of the period’s first ten shots on goal and kept them out of the back of the net, including a stacked pads save on an Eric Cavosie shot that forced the netminder to slide from the left to right post.
RPI would eventually regain the lead, on a pretty two-on-one goal. Ryan Shields and Marc Cavosie led the break across the UMD blue line. Cavosie carried the puck in and slid a soft pass to Shields, who followed through with a back-hander that went in underneath Coole with less than ten minutes to go in regulation.
But the Bulldogs were not about to let the crowd of 3,433 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center go home early or unhappy. Medak scored his second and the first of the two power-play goals with 4:14 left to play. Francisco set up the play when he skated behind the RPI net, and dished off to Medak who snapped in a one-timer from between the crease and the left faceoff circle.
That finished off the scoring until Carlson’s game winner in OT.
Carlson said experience is the reason for the early success in the Bulldog power-play. “We have four seniors and that really helps. We know each other, and we don’t have to look a second time to make sure they’re in the right place.”
The win was the third straight for UMD against a nationally-ranked team. The Bulldogs opened the season winning the Maverick Stampede, by beating Nebraska-Omaha and Michigan, then lost twice last weekend to unranked Minnesota State-Mankato.
RPI and UMD will finish their two-game, nonconference series Saturday night.