March 16, 2009

Courtesy of Minn.-Duluth

Nick Kemp and Michael Gergen were freshmen the last time the University of Minnesota Duluth made an appearance in the WCHA Final Five Tournament and on Saturday night they both did their part to ensure a return visit to that event. Kemp and Gergen each scored once in sparking the Bulldogs to a 3-1 road victory over Colorado College and a sweep of the opening round best-of-three-playoff series.

With the victory, the No. 19 Bulldogs improved to 18-12-8 overall and earned a Thursday night matchup with the University of Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center. It will be UMD's fourth WCHA Final Five berth in the past seven seasons.

Just as they had done the night before en route to upending the No. 13 Tigers 4-1, the Bulldogs took a 2-0 first period lead on a pair of power play goals. Freshman Jack Connolly cashed in on UMD's first power play opportunity Saturday by scoring his seventh goal of the season -- but first since Jan. 30 -- 4:47 after the opening faceoff. A little over six minutes later and on the next power play chance, Kemp one-timed a feed from freshman left winger Travis Oleksuk past Colorado College goaltender Richard Bachman to put UMD up 2-0. With 4:28 remaining before the first intermission, Scott McCulloch cut that lead in half with a power play goal, but Gergen answered midway through the second with his ninth goal of the season. Oleksuk was credited with one of the two assists on that insurance goal, along with senior center MacGregor Sharp, who now has 99 career points.

UMD, which possesses the nation's third most i power play, were 4-for-10 with the man advantage over the weekend and allowed just two goals (both on the power play) to the Tigers while becoming the first club to post a sweep in Colorado Springs in over two years (Feb. 16-17, 2007).

Junior goaltender Alex Stalock, the 2008-09 WCHA goals against average champion, stopped 29 of 30 Tiger shots and even contributed at the other end of the ice by picking up his first assist of the season and seventh of his career.