KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Senior captain Sheldond Dries netted his first collegiate hat trick as the eighth-ranked Western Michigan Hockey team defeated No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth, 7-4, at Lawson Ice Arena on Friday night.
Dries finished with four points on the night along with his linemate Griffen Molino, who added four assists. WMU also picked up goals from Hugh McGing, Luke Bafia, Lawton Courtnall and Frederik Tiffels. Ben Blacker made 34 saves in the win for the Broncos (20-8-5, 13-8-2-1 NCHC). Western Michigan earned its 20th win of the season, the second time that has happened under head coach Andy Murray.
The Broncos jumped out to an early 1-0 lead at 9:12 in the first period. Molino found Dries open in the slot. The senior captain's first shot was saved but the rebound kicked back to his stick and he buried it for his 13th goal of the season.
Just before the end of the first period McGing banged in a rebound on a shot by Molino for his sixth goal of the season and third tally in three games. Wade Allison passed it up to Molino at center ice on the power play and Molino skated into the left circle. The sophomore forward's shot was saved but McGing was trailing the play and skated in behind to punch in the rebound.
What a great win for @WMUHockey to cap of a happy birthday for head coach Andy Murray!— WMU Hockey (@WMUHockey) March 4, 2017
Bafia made it 3-0 early in the second period. The freshman defenseman skated into the zone after receiving the puck from Chris Dienes and beat Hunter Miska between his legs for his collegiate goal.
Just 53 seconds later Dries struck for the second time on the night. Molino made a drop pass from the right circle to dries in the slot and he put it in for his 14th of the season. Iacopelli also picked up his second assist of the night and Molino taliled his third.
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Parker Mackay snapped the shutout just over a minute later at 4:24 in the second period on his sixth goal of the season. Nick Wolff found Mackay to the left of the net and he squeaked it by Blacker.
Western Michigan took a 5-1 lead late in the second period on Courtnall's third goal of the season. Scott Moldenhauer played the puck up to the freshman forward and he skated it into the left circle. Courtnall had Jade McMullen for a 2-on-1 break but the pass was taken away and he put the puck on net. Backup goalie Hunter Shepard made the initial save but his momentum took him into the net and the puck popped lose for the goal. Dries also tallied an assist on the goal for his third point of the night.
Karson Kuhlman cut the lead to 5-2 on a power play goal just 1:21 into the third period. Willie Raskob found him wide open in the left circle for the one-timer.
UMD head coach Scott Sandelin pulled Shepard from the net for the extra attacker with just under seven minutes left in the game. Tiffels scored an empty-net goal after Micahel Rebry won a battle for the puck in the neutral zone for his seventh goal of the season. Rebry picked up his career-best ninth assist. Courtnal also tallied an assist for a two-point game.
Brenden Kotyk scored an even-strength goal at 16:22 to cut the lead to 6-3, causing Sandelin to once again pull the goalie. This time it worked and Adam Johnson scored an extra-attacker goal at 16:49 to shrink the lead to 6-4.
In the final minute Molino won the puck and dished it up to McGing. The freshman forward had Dries on his left and dished it off to the captain for the empty-net goal to complete the hat trick.
WMU's penalty kill finished the night 7-for-8 and Blacker made 14 of his saves when down a man. The Bulldogs outshot the Broncos 38-23 overall.
The two teams face off again on Saturday night and Western Michigan pays homage to its seven-member senior class prior to the 7 p.m. start.