Bulldogs sweep last place Mavericks, win fourth straight

Koby Bender controls the puck during Saturday nights game at AMSOIL Arena. Photo by: Dave Harwig

Koby Bender controls the puck during Saturday nights game at AMSOIL Arena. Photo by: Dave Harwig

The Bulldogs came into the weekend having shutout Miami (OH) RedHawks the weekend prior 7-0.

The No. 5 ranked Bulldogs (16-6-2, 9-4-1) did more of the same in the first game of the series against the University of Nebraska Omaha (7-15-2, 3-9-1),  cruising to a 7-2 victory. The Bulldogs had 91 total shots, with 56 of the being on-goal.

Sophomore right wing Nick Swaney had the game he won’t forget where he recorded his first collegiate hat trick, scoring a goal in all three periods.

The score was tied after one period, although the Bulldogs were nearly out-shooting the Mavericks four-to-one (19 to 5).

Whatever Head Coach Scott Sandelin said during the intermission must have worked because the Bulldogs came out of the locker room and scored three unanswered goals before giving up a power play goal 15 minutes into the period.

The second period has been the Bulldogs biggest advantage this season. Coming into the game, UMD was outscoring their opponents 31-13 in the second period this season before exploding for five goals in the same period. The Bulldogs 36 goals in the second period has accounted for almost half of the goals they have scored this season (48.6 percent).

Defense played well once again, allowing the Mavericks only 17 shots on-goal against junior goalie Hunter Shepard.

“It’s always going to be hard Saturday,” Sandelin said, per University of Minnesota Duluth’s Sports Information. “They’re going to be a better hockey team too. Hopefully our guys have built some momentum because it’s going to take another 60 minute game to win.”

The second game of the series got off to a similar start.

It was a back-and-forth first period on both ends, no one was giving an inch. Each team had a lot of energy out of the gate and the shots-on-goal were much closer 10 to 7.

The second period again was where the Bulldogs did their damage. They put up 26 shots-on-goal in the second period and scored twice.

“I don’t think we got off to the start we wanted,” captain Parker Mackay said. “It was still a zero zero game, we just figured that we need to try to get a lead. Win a period, come back in and give ourselves an opportunity to win a game coming into the third.”

The first goal came a quarter into the second period and seconds after a Bulldog power play. Defenseman Dylan Samberg sniped in a wrist shot for his fourth goal of the season, right between the blue line and the left faceoff zone.

The Bulldogs were not finished adding to their second period dominance, when sophomore Koby Bender scored his first career collegiate goal off of a rebound from a shot by freshman left wing Cole Koepke.

“A big weight off my shoulders,” Bender said of his goal. “But it felt even nicer to get a win.”

Minnesota Duluth outshot the Mavericks in shots-on-goal 26 to 14 in the period.

Omaha made things interesting when junior Zach Jordan scored a power play goal against the nations top penalty kill. Jordan was skating on the right wing then put the puck right past Shepard.

The Bulldogs buckled down after the goal by staying aggressive on offense and defense.

Parker Mackay put the game on ice with a clutch goal with just over three minutes left in the game. Sophomore Justin Richards won the faceoff and Mackay found the puck and put it top shelf.

Hunter Shepard also had himself a great game. Shepard totaled 33 saves and a couple of highlight saves.

Minnesota Duluth heads to Colorado Springs next to take on the Colorado College Tigers, whom they have already between twice by a combined score of 8-1.