UMD uses strong second and third periods to defeat Miami (OH) 4-2

Photo by: Dave Harwig

Photo by: Dave Harwig

In the final home weekend series of the 2018-19 regular season, the Bulldogs (20-9-2, 13-7-1-0) used a strong second period to pull away from the Miami (OH) (11-18-4, 5-14-2-1) Redhawks.

Miami has not been able to figure out the Bulldogs, especially at AMSOIL. Minnesota Duluth has beaten the Redhawks in 15 of the last 16 meetings, with their only loss coming on Nov. 18, 2017 (3-2). Miami also has the lowest winning percentage at AMSOIL of all the teams in the National College Hockey Conference (NCHC) since 2010, going 1-10-1, a .125 winning percentage.

Though it was a scoreless first period, the Bulldogs were in control of the game. They had plenty of scoring opportunities including in the final minute. Sophomore Nick Swaney set up freshman Noah Cates right in front of the Miami net, but Cates and senior Peter Krieger could not get any of their putbacks to find the back of the net.

“I thought we came out and did what we want to do,” head coach Scott Sandelin said. “I thought it slowed down after that. You don’t score and you got to keep playing.”

The story of the Bulldogs offense this season has been the second period. They are tops in the nation in second-period goal differential this season at plus 28 and nearly half of their goals coming into the game have come in the second period, also tops in Division I.

The Bulldogs would draw first blood when Noah Cates took the layoff from goalie Hunter Shepard and took the puck a couple feet from the blue line and put a wrist shot right past junior goalie Ryan Larkin.

“That was a huge spark for us,” Cates said of his first goal. “It was more of a dead game, not a lot of life to us and we needed a spark.”

A few minutes later in the period, Cates would net his second goal of the game. Sophomore defenseman Dylan Samberg, walked the puck past center ice and dropped it off to Cates at the top of the fight faceoff zone and put another wrister right under the Larkin’s leg to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.

Miami would answer just over a minute later when freshman Jonathan Gruden put a perfect backhand pass to sophomore Phil Knies and put it past Shepard. It was Shepard’s first goal allowed versus Miami in two prior games this season in Oxford, OH.

The Bulldogs would remain in control of the game by pounding the net, they led in shots-on-goal 23-10 after the second period.

Having a lead going into the third period has been bankable for the Bulldogs the past three seasons, going 70-1-3 in those situations.

That number would go to 71 as the Bulldogs would add two more goals in the final period to Miami’s one and win the game by a final of 4-2.

“It’s important to battle for that second spot,” Shepard said of the NCHC standings. “Big win tonight for us.”

Bulldogs will look to complete their seventh sweep of the season Saturday night against Miami.

Saturday nights game will be senior night for just three players on Minnesota Duluth’s roster: captain Parker Mackay, winger Billy Exell and Peter Krieger. Fourth-year junior goalie Nick Deery will also be honored in the pregame ceremony.