DULUTH, Minn. — Looking for their first home sweep over the Michigan Tech Huskies (8-11-2 overall, 5-8-2 WCHA) in three years, the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (6-13-3 overall, 3-10-2 WCHA) found out first-hand how difficult a task it would be, needing three third-period goals to skate away with a 5-3 win on Saturday night.
“I thought our guys showed a lot character in the last 20 minutes,” said Bulldog head coach Scott Sandelin. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a comeback win as well.”
Sophomore forward Mason Raymond showed amazing patience while deking out Huskies netminder Rob Nolan from just to Nolan’s right, and netted what would stand as the winning goal at the 12:10 mark of the third period. Senior forward Bryan McGregor and co-captain Matt McKnight both assisted on the goal.
“It helps to have the rest of the team playing as well as they are,” said Raymond. “They made my job a lot easier.”
Sophomore center MacGregor Sharp got the Bulldogs off to a quick start with a tally just 1:06 in. His seventh of the campaign was set up by a great effort from Raymond, who hit Sharp cutting to the net. Sophomore forward Nick Kemp also assisted on the goal.
The Huskies answered at the 7:33 mark when freshman defenseman Drew Dobson netted his first collegiate goal. Junior center Peter Rouleau fed Dobson at the point, and Dobson blasted a long shot past Bulldog netminder Alex Stalock. Freshman forward Phil Axtell picked up an assist on the goal.
With freshman defenseman Eli Vlaisavljevich and co-captain Mike Batovanja both off the ice, the Bulldogs regained their one-goal lead on the ensuing five-on-three power play. McKnight notched his third of the season with a blast from the high slot through traffic and past Nolan. Sophomore defenseman Matt Niskanen and Raymond both assisted on the goal.
Rouleau helped even the game again for the Huskies when he skated in all the way to Stalock before feeding the puck back to a waiting Geoff Kinrade, and the sophomore defenseman buried into a yawning net at 17:02. Junior forward Tyler Shelast also assisted on the play.
“(Geoff) Kinrade jumped in, and I could hear him screaming from the blue line,” said Rouleau. “I saw him at the last second.”
The Huskies had trouble keeping up their torrid first period pressure, as the Bulldogs kept the Huskies from getting their first shot until the 7:54 mark. During that time, Nolan was tested often.
“I thought we played very well through the first two periods,” said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell. “We have to continue to make plays instead of trying to hang on for 20 minutes.”
Batovanja, making up for his penalty in the first period, gave the Huskies their only lead of the game at the 16:45 mark of the second period. Rouleau cut to the net with the puck and found Batovanja for the one-timer. Co-captain Lars Helminen also assisted on the goal.
“It felt good to finally get the monkey off my back,” said Batovanja. “We need to play a full game though.”
Sharp’s second of the night pulled the Bulldogs even in the third period just three minutes in. Gergen made a great individual play by carrying the puck back out to the point before ripping a shot that Nolan initially stopped, only to have Sharp bury the loose puck as Nolan was sprawled out. Kemp assisted on the goal as well.
Trailing by a goal late, Russell pulled Nolan with 1:34 remaining, but the Huskies couldn’t sustain any pressure in the Bulldog zone.
Sophomore forward Matt Greer iced the game for the Bulldogs with an empty net goal with :21 seconds left in the game. Sophomore defenseman Josh Meyers and Stalock both assisted on the goal.
“That’s a big win for us,” said Raymond. “It’s hard to put it into words right now.”
The Bulldogs finished one-for-three on the power play while holding the Huskies to zero-for-six.
Stalock made 22 saves en route to his fifth career victory. Nolan stopped 24 in the loss for the Huskies.