Three things: Nov. 19

Minnesota-Duluth pulls off big sweep in St. Cloud
No NCHC team came out of this weekend looking rosier than Minnesota-Duluth, which made the short trip down to St. Cloud State and pulled out a pair of wins over the seventh-ranked Huskies.

It all started on Friday night when the No. 17 Bulldogs picked up a big 3-2 overtime victory. A pair of power play goals in the first 10 minutes of the  third period put SCSU ahead, but UMD’s Andy Welinski tied the game with 5:46 left in regulation before Cal Decowski notched the game-winner 2:06 into the resulting extra period.

Bulldogs freshman goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo was outstanding in UMD’s nets, stopping 33 of the 35 shots he faced on the night.

He then followed that up with another 27 saves the following night when the Bulldogs came away 3-1 winners to clinch a series sweep against their intrastate league rival. UMD found itself up 2-0 through Saturday’s first 20 minutes before senior Justin Crandall – who, and it could just be me who thinks this, seems to have been playing for UMD forever -  picked up an empty-net insurance goal with just over a minute left to play.

With the two wins in St. Cloud, Minn., UMD jumped to 6-4-0 overall on the season and 4-2-0 in NCHC play. The Bulldogs are now three points clear at the top of the league standings, although that could soon change as everyone else in the NCHC has league games in hand on Duluth.

UMD has another pair of tough tests coming up this weekend in the form of a home-and-home against Minnesota.


UNO backup bounces back to keep Mavericks rolling
Not many people expected a whole lot from Nebraska-Omaha early on this season. Considering the Mavericks have 12 newcomers this year – 11 freshmen and a transfer from Vermont – the skepticism was entirely understandable.

However, No. 19 UNO has been on a real roll here in the first few weeks of the campaign. The Mavericks were 4-1-1 through six games heading into their non-conference series at Ohio State last weekend.

Considering how the season’s started, UNO’s 4-1 win over the Buckeyes on Friday night was pretty standard. Half of the Mavericks’ goals came on power play opportunities, and senior goaltender Ryan Massa kept up his good early form in stopping 25 of the 26 shots he faced.

He then suffered a hand injury during his team’s practice the following morning, though, and that put him out of the rematch with OSU. In stepped sophomore backup Kirk Thompson, who conceded three Buckeyes goals in the first period before recovering and helping UNO to a 4-3 win.

Thompson finished the game with 27 saves, 22 of which came over the game’s final 40 minutes.

UNO (6-1-1, 2-0-0) is off this next week before hosting Minnesota-Duluth Nov. 21-22. The Nov. 21 meeting with the Bulldogs will be the Mavericks’ first home game in nearly a month and a half.

UND’s hot streak away from home continues
Wisconsin has been in a bad way early on this season, dropping each of its first four games. The Badgers finally made their home debut last weekend against North Dakota, though, and UW was hoping to finally pick up a W or two at the Kohl Center.

That didn’t happen. Instead, second-ranked UND stormed into Madison and came away with a pair of wins. It’s all UND has done on the road so far this season, as it’s now 5-0-0 away from Grand Forks, N.D. since the start of the current campaign.

Even better if you’re a UND fan, the men in green and white are now riding an eight-game unbeaten streak at 7-0-1.

The fifth of those wins came on Friday in less-than-pretty fashion. UND found itself down 2-1 to the Badgers after the first two periods, but the visitors stormed back and scored three goals in the final 20 minutes – two of them coming off Michael Parks’s stick – to win 4-3.

UND was more comfortable on Saturday during a 5-1 sweep-clinching win, but it didn’t come quite as easily as the score suggests. UND again had to score three third-period goals in the rematch to pull away from the Badgers.

North Dakota (7-1-1, 2-0-0) is back at home this weekend to take on No. 11 Miami.