Duluth brushes WMU aside
Minnesota Duluth gave itself the easiest route to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, sweeping Western Michigan in a quarterfinal series by a combined 7-0.
Bulldogs sophomore goaltender Hunter Shepard added to his school season record for shutouts on Friday by backstopping Duluth to a 5-0 Game 1 win. Duluth picked up its sixth win from seven games thanks partly to goals from five different skaters. Three goals came on power plays, and Blake Young put a bow on the proceedings on a shorthanded goal with 2:06 left.
Saturday’s Game 2 was much tighter, with WMU battling to extend its season but falling 2-0 on the night and 2-0 in the series. Louie Roehl scored on a tap-in 2:24 into the game before Jared Thomas scored an empty-netter with 0.9 seconds left. Shepard finished with 19 saves in his eighth shutout of the season and fourth against Western since last November.
WMU finishes its season at 15-19-2.
North Dakota sweeps UNO
North Dakota’s chances of going to the NCAA tournament for a 16th consecutive season have improved thanks to a home NCHC quarterfinal sweep of Omaha.
Four different Fighting Hawks scored in UND’s 4-0 win in Friday’s Game 1, and senior goalie Cam Johnson used 25 saves to post his third shutout of the season. Omaha, which entered the playoffs leading the NCHC in power play percentage, went 0-for-2 Friday.
On Saturday night, UND blew a 2-0 lead and needed a Nick Jones goal midway through the third period to tie the game at 3-3. It stayed that way until 53 seconds into overtime when Jones banked a shot in off the back of UNO goalie Evan Weninger.
Omaha (17-17-2), now 18th in the PairWise Rankings, still has a slight chance to sneak into the NCAA tournament but needs help. The Mavericks haven’t played a neutral-site conference postseason game since 2005.
Huskies hit 20-win mark again
A month after sweeping Miami by a combined 9-2 in Oxford, Ohio, No. 1 St. Cloud State was taken to three games – and overtime in the second and third games- by the Redhawks.
Jack Ahcan and Easton Brodzinski both had a goal and an assists during SCSU’s 5-2 Game 1 win before a Grant Hutton goal 7:10 into overtime on Saturday forced a deciding third game.
Miami led 2-0 after one in Game 3 and 3-1 early in the second, but goals from Mikey Eyssimont and Judd Peterson tied the game at 3-3 before Eyssimont won the game in OT on his team-leading 17th goal of the season.
SCSU has made a habit of playing extra hockey, going to extras in six of the Huskies’ last nine games. Miami’s season ends at 12-20-5.
Denver beats in-state rival in three
Second-seeded Denver was also taken to three games against an underdog opponent but found a way past No. 7 Colorado College.
The series got off to a surprising start when CC won 2-0 on Friday at Denver’s Magness Arena. Westin Michaud and Mason Bergh scored 4:20 apart in the third period, and Tigers goalie Alex Leclerc was terrific in making 37 saves.
On Saturday, two Troy Terry goals propelled DU to a 3-2 win, forcing Game 3. CC led Game 2 late in the second period on a Kristian Blumenschein goal before Terry scored twice in the third period.
Sunday’s deciding game was anticlimactic, with Denver winning 6-1. The Pioneers were up 2-0 after one on goals from Logan O’Connor and Tariq Hammond before getting another three goals in the second period. Terry finished the game with four assists, including three on consecutive Pioneers goals.
CC was significantly better this season than in 2016-17, nearly doubling their win total from last season. The Tigers are done for the winter, however, at 15-17-5.