GAME OF THE WEEK: Cardiac kids, No. 1 Minnesota Duluth salvage a weekend split with three-goal comeback and last-second tying goal, OT winner from Kopeke

Hunter Shepard of UMD plays the puck. Minnesota Duluth at Denver at Magness Arena, November 17, 2018. (Candace Horgan)
Goalie Hunter Shepard was a major part of Minnesota Duluth’s major comeback against Denver. Shepard finished with 26 saves on Saturday (photo: Candace Horgan).

It took five periods for the No. 1 Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs to solve Denver goalie Devin Cooley, but when they did, the goals came in bunches. After the No. 7 Denver Pioneers built a 3-0 lead through two periods, UMD rallied, finally tying the game during a mad scramble in front of the Denver net with 1.8 seconds left in the game to send it to overtime, where Cole Koepke won it.

“Peter (Krieger) won a big faceoff there that at least gave us the opportunity to get the puck on the net; I know there was a scramble,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “A good third period by our team, and I guess that’s why it’s a three-period game, because our first period wasn’t very good.”

Cooley made the initial save, but UMD’s sophomore sensation, Scott Perunovich shot the puck, somehow it went in.

“The puck went to (Nick) Swaney, and he might have had a fake or fanned on it; I don’t know what happened there,” said Perunovich. “The puck came back to me. I was calling for it, and he made a nice play. He didn’t panic with the puck. Luckily it got through; we had some bodies at the net, and somehow it went in.”

That set the stage for the game-winning goal by Koepke, who raced down the left side and beat Cooley top shelf near post at 52 seconds of the overtime, capping the dramatic rally. The win was the first for UMD against Denver since December 2016; the Bulldogs had lost six straight to the Pioneers since then.

“We knew that coming in, it was in the back of our heads,” said Perunovich. “It’s great to be able to come from behind and beat a good team.”

The Pioneers came out with a lot of jump, coming in waves and quickly building up a nearly two-to-one shots on goal advantage. Denver got on the board first when freshman Cole Guttman picked up a rebound of Griffin Mendel’s wraparound shot. Guttman got the puck on the left side of the slot and banked a wrist shot in off the right pad of Bulldogs goalie Hunter Shepard at 3:03.

Quickly seizing momentum, the Pioneers made it 2-0 when freshman Brett Stapley picked up a rebound of Tyler Ward’s shot in a scrum at the crease and whacked at it, getting it up in the air and under Shepard’s glove at 6:20.

“We played a great two periods,” said Denver coach David Carle. “They’re a good hockey team, and they’re not going to go away. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to execute, and they made some plays, and they made us pay.”

In the second period, Duluth came out with much more jump, including getting a couple of good chances down low. Perhaps the best was when Koepke got the puck along the left boards and cut hard to the net, beating Ian Mitchell and cutting into the slot and getting a backhand off that forced Cooley to make a big save.

That play gave the Bulldogs life, and for the next few minutes, they kept Denver pinned in its own end for minutes on end and generated several strong shots on net. However, it was Denver that scored when Les Lancaster got the puck at the right point. Blocked by a Duluth player from taking a slap shot, Lancaster took one stride and wristed a shot that deflected off two separate players, ultimately hitting Bulldogs defenseman Nick Wolff in front and deflecting past Shepard at 7:20.

“Why can’t those go in for us; we had some shots that were bouncing around too,” said Sandelin of how it felt on the bench at that point. “It could have been real deflating for our team, but I thought we didn’t fold, we didn’t get too down.”

Duluth regrouped and kept the pressure up, ultimately outshooting the Pioneers, 15-8, in the period, but were unable to get Cooley moving. Toward the end of the period, DU’s Liam Finlay got called for hooking, allowing Duluth to start the third period with 1:43 of power play time, but they were unable to convert.

The Bulldogs finally got their first goal of the weekend at 6:36 of the third. Perunovich slid a pass across the ice toward Krieger, who dove and knocked the puck through the crease to Swaney, who batted it in.

“I got the puck and saw ‘Kriegs’ busting to the net,” said Perunovich. “He does a great job finding space, and luckily I got it to him and he did the rest.”

Billy Exell pulled UMD within one at 9:27 right off a draw to Cooley’s right, picking up the loose puck in the faceoff circle and getting a snap shot that beat Cooley top corner.

“I think anytime you get shutout first night, and go through another couple periods, guys can get frustrated,” said Sandelin. “We had the power play to start the third period, and it looked like our power play all weekend. It wasn’t effective. We talked about getting that first one and going from there, and our guys did. It was a little bit later than I’d like, but it was early enough that we still had time to claw back in it.”

No. 18 Arizona State 3, Harvard 2 (OT)
Johnny Walker’s deflection of a shot from the right point at 2:45 of overtime lifted Arizona State, ranked nationally for the first week in program history, to a 3-2 victory over Harvard, earning the weekend split with the Crimson.

The Sun Devils trailed Harvard, 2-1, late into the third before Anthony Croston scored a shorthanded tally with 7:56 remaining to force overtime.

Goaltender Joey Daccord earned the victory, his tenth of the season, with 40 saves.

Western Michigan 6, No. 11 North Dakota 2
Colt Conrad registered five points (goal, four assists) as unranked Western Michigan completed a weekend road sweep of No. 11 North Dakota, 6-2, in NCHC action.

A three-goal second period broke open a 1-1 tie through 20 and started a five-goal run for the visiting Broncos.

Josh Passolt finished the game with two goals for Western Michigan, which earns its first sweep of North Dakota in Grand Forks in program history.

No. 5 Penn State 7, No. 16 Michigan 6 (OT)

Concluding a crazy track meet, Penn State’s Sam Sternschein scored just six seconds into overtime to push the Nittany Lions past Michigan, 7-6, to earn the split of the weekend series.

The OT winner spoiled a four-goal third period comeback by the Wolverines, who trailed 4-2 through 40 minutes. After twice trading goals in the final frame, Michigan potted two goals in the final 3:27 to send the game to overtime.

Penn State’s Evan Barrett paced the scoring for the Nittany Lions registering a hat trick in the game’s first 35 minutes.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I think UMD actually lost 7 straight to Denver: 2017 championship, all four regular season 2017-2018, NCHC tournament, and then Friday night

  2. Absolutely no complaints about the weekend, officiating was steller. We saw it coming when UMD scored their first goal, DU was simply overwhelmed when the best team in the NCAA started rolling. Not bad that Denver was one final face-off away from a sweep. I am sure DU will benefit from last night’s experience, especially the freshman.

    • So the team that couldn’t beat Minnesota is the best team in the nation? Outside of a 4 game winning streak at the right time Duluth is just another young team that hasn’t proved much.

      • Just my opinion but St. Cloud and Duluth are the 2 best teams in
        the country. I can’t comment about who may be better yet but they’ll play each other at least 4 times.

        • Totally agree with your opinion. I will watch all 4 games on NCHC.TV, even if it on my phone at Magness. At the end of the year, I believe SCSU and UMD will earn a top spot in a Regional. Mike’s above comment seemed to omit that UMD had won, I believe, eight in a row before losing Friday night.

      • Hasn’t proved much? You are right if you don’t count defending National Champions that only lost 2 key players from last year. How come so many SCSU fans keeping knocking teams that have done something your team has never done? Perhaps you should concentrate on winning a Regional before dissing others.

    • I saw your coach’s brother play last night, congrats on the great weekend. Sorry I can’t wish you well on the next series ( :

          • Think you can work out a trip to Denver this weekend? There will be plenty of tickets on Providence end available, and you will enjoy Magness Arena.

          • Furthest west I’ve been is North Dakota when Providence was there for the (then) Final Four. Regionals are back here this March, maybe DU will visit again? I’ll be listening this weekend of course.

          • Too bad there is no TV, only on NCHC.TV. If this site had a private message option, I would give you my userid and password to let you use my NCHC.TV account. Since I will, obviously, be attending both games you could enjoy watching them too.

          • Thank you for the thought. A few of our games are televised but only on New England stations. I’ll keep tabs though, unfortunately we can’t both be happy on Sunday. Enjoy!

          • Wish you, and Providence, good luck also. Should be interesting how they handle the altitude, especially on Saturday night. Hope the officiating is as good as last week was, hate it when either team gets the short end.

          • We had another wild one last Saturday for most of the game. At one point Merrimack served simultaneous 10s. The calls favored PC yet MC had 2 SHGs. Those darn special teams.

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