Coming into this weekend’s series, Minnesota-Duluth had looked impressive crucial NCHC series, sweeping North Dakota and St. Cloud State in dramatic fashion. The Bulldogs trend of giving up the goal continued Friday in the first game of a series with Western Michigan, as Aidan Muir put the Broncos up 1-0 with a power-play goal at 7:57. However, after Parker Mackay put the Bulldogs up 3-1 less than eight minutes later, Minnesota-Duluth looked in control again, but a Matheson Iacopelli goal at 16:50 set the stage for last-minute heroics from Colt Conrad.
First, Conrad tied the game at 19:56 of the first. Then after nearly 40 minutes of scoreless action, just when it seemed the game was headed to OT, Conrad scored the game-winner at 19:29 of the third. Trevor Gorsuch made 21 saves for Western Michigan in the win.
Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin had emphasized the need to control Western Michigan’s fearsome power play, which had entered the weekend ranked fourth in the country. Friday’s first goal on the power play was the only one Western Michigan got all weekend, as the Bulldogs responded to the loss Friday with a 2-0 shutout win behind 30 saves from Hunter Miska and power-play goals from Alex Iafallo and Kyle Osterberg.
Duluth remains in first place in the NCHC with 15 points, five ahead of second place Denver and six ahead of Omaha and Western Michigan, which are tied for third with nine points, though the Pioneers, Mavericks and Broncos have two games in hand.
North Dakota streak continues
No. 6 North Dakota entered the weekend for a big home series against No. 2 Denver on a bad streak, as the Fighting Hawks were winless in their previous four games. Denver extended that streak with a tie and win on the weekend in a rematch of last year’s Frozen Four game.
Friday, the two teams battled to a 1-1 tie, though North Dakota got an extra NCHC point via a goal from Shane Gerisch at 3:28 of a three-on-three overtime period.
Gersich also scored twice on Saturday, but North Dakota lost 3-2 to Denver. Gersich’s first goal put North Dakota up 1-0, and his second erased an early 2-1 Denver lead, but freshman Henrik Borgström scored the game-winner in the second period just 57 seconds after Gersich had tied it, and Tanner Jaillet shut the door the rest of the way, including nine saves in the third period.
North Dakota hasn’t gone without a win for so many games since 2003, when they went through an 0-5-2 stretch. The Hawks’ path to breaking the current streak isn’t easy, as they are on the road next weekend against St. Cloud State. North Dakota is also 0-3-1 in NCHC play.
Omaha has rebounded from a disappointing 2-1 loss to Colorado College on Friday by scoring six goals in its last three games. The 12 goals this weekend paced Omaha to a sweep of Miami on the road, 6-4 and 6-2. In both games, Omaha showed impressive resiliency.
After scoring the first goal Friday, Omaha fell behind 4-1 by 10:25 of the second period after Anthony Louis’ second goal of the period before rallying, sparked by Joel Messner’s short-handed goal at 16:15 of the second. Omaha then scored four goals in the third, with David Pope notching the game-winner at 11:55 and Mason Morelli adding an empty-netter to seal the win.
Omaha jumped out to a lead again on Saturday, making it 2-0 on Austin Ortega’s short-handed goal at 12:45 of the first, but Miami struck back with power-play goals from Kiefer Sherwood less than two minutes apart, the second coming at 16:52 of the first. However, Luc Snuggerud scored the game-winner while the teams were four-on-four, and Pope scored a five-on-three power-play goal at 9:25 of the second to put the Mavericks up by two. Ortega and Snuggerud also scored in the third, the latter on the power play.
Omaha scored five power-play goals and two short-handed goals on the weekend. Ortega also extended his points streak to six games.