Bulldogs put Miami to bed
Second-seeded Minnesota-Duluth found No. 7 Miami to be a tough out this weekend in the teams’ best-of-three NCHC first-round series, but UMD did enough to end the RedHawks’ season.
On Friday, Duluth used a Dominic Toninato goal 7:24 into overtime to lift the Bulldogs to a 5-4 Game 1 win. After winning a faceoff draw, Toninato put away a shot from close range after teammate Alex Iafallo was unable to stuff the puck in past Miami goaltender Chase Munroe.
The RedHawks lost starting goalie Ryan Larkin early in Friday’s second period after a UMD skater was pushed into him. Munroe was back in action Saturday, making 31 saves in a 5-3 Game 2 loss to Duluth.
Miami led 3-2 early in Saturday’s third period after scoring twice in the frame’s first 3:17. UMD roared back in the final eight minutes, using goals from Iafallo and Jared Thomas to move ahead at 4-3 before Toninato buried an empty-netter with 1:05 left.
A young Miami team with three seniors and just six upperclassmen in all ends its season at 9-20-7.
UND cements national tourney chances
North Dakota’s 2016-17 season continues at another talented team’s expense.
Fourth-seeded UND further solidified an opportunity to defend its 2016 national championship at this year’s NCAA tournament after sweeping No. 5 seed St. Cloud State out of the conference playoffs. A 5-2 Fighting Hawks win in Friday’s first game was followed by a 6-5 overtime victory over SCSU on Saturday.
Five different UND players scored in Friday’s series opener, with insurance goals coming from Austin Poganski and Joel Janatuinen in the game’s final eight minutes. Both SCSU goals Friday came on power plays.
Saturday’s rematch featured five ties before Trevor Olson potted his fifth goal of the season 7:38 into the extra period. It was a cruel way to end St. Cloud’s season, as Olson deflected a Johnny Simonson shot from the boards home past Huskies goalie Jeff Smith, who ended the game with 35 saves.
UND will face in the NCHC semifinals a Denver team that swept in-state rival Colorado College in the teams’ first-round series this weekend. SCSU (16-19-1) snaps a four-year string of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
Omaha bows out in deciding third game
Another series which saw teams on the bubble around the country breathe a little easier took place in Kalamazoo, Mich., where Western Michigan downed Omaha in three games.
UNO started the weekend brightest, using a goal from senior forward Justin Parizek 4:17 into overtime on Friday night that gave the Mavericks a 2-1 win. Omaha wasn’t as lucky Saturday, as three third-period goals from WMU saw the Broncos roll away with a 5-2 victory to level the series at one game apiece.
In Sunday’s decider, first-period goals from Omaha’s Tyler Vesel and Western’s Griffen Molino – both coming on UNO power plays – canceled each other out. After nobody scored in the second and third periods, WMU’s Michael Rebry backhanded a shot past Omaha goalie Evan Weninger 34 seconds into overtime to book the Broncos’ NCHC semifinal spot against UMD.
UNO, which needed a deep conference playoff run to qualify for this year’s NCAA tournament, instead finishes its season at 17-17-5.
In all, home teams went 8-1 during this year’s NCHC playoff opening round.