The University of Minnesota Duluth closed out their opening National Collegiate Hockey Conference regular-season series with a convincing 5-2 triumph over the University of Denver Saturday evening at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn.
After a penalty-filled first eight minutes, Sophomore forward Jackson Cates picked up a loose puck in front of the net and beat Denver goaltender Magnus Chrona on the power play for his fourth goal of the 2019 campaign. Cates' 12th career goal was set up by a rebound from junior forward Nick Swaney's attempt on goal and would give the seventh-ranked Bulldogs (4-3-1 overall; 1-0-1 NCHC) their first lead of the weekend.
HIGHLIGHT: Jackon Cates scores on the power play to give the Bulldogs a lead. pic.twitter.com/WJsL0r6t0F— UMD Athletics (@UMDBulldogs) November 10, 2019
The top-ranked Pioneers (8-1-1 overall; 0-1-1 NCHC) wouldn't take long respond. With 4:41 remaining in the first period, Brett Stapley batted in a deflected puck in front of the Bulldog net to knot the game back up at one. Stapley's equalizer would be reviewed but was still ruled a good goal. The Pioneers outshot the Bulldogs 21-10, 12-9 shots on goal respectively, in the opening frame with senior goaltender Hunter Shepard racking up 11 saves.
Two-and-a-half minutes into the second period, Jaakko Heikkinen would turn the Bulldogs over deep in their own zone and a few seconds later cash in on a rebound to give the Pioneers a 2-1 lead.
Five minutes later, junior forward Koby Bender beat Chrona with a wrister from the right circle to tie the game back up at two. Bender's second goal of the season was assisted by freshman forward Quinn Olson and came off of a 2-on-1 break.
The Bulldogs would turn the tables back on the Pioneers when freshman forward Luke Loheit maneuvered right-to-left around Chrona for a backhand finish. Loheit's first collegiate and go-ahead goal was assisted by Bender and would put the Bulldogs up 3-2 with 8:35 remaining in the second period.
The Bulldogs would lock down defensively in the third period. Shepard closed out the game with eight more saves to shut out the Pioneers in the final frame. UMD would send the Pioneers home with two more goals late in the period.
The first came with three-and-a-half minutes to go when sophomore forward Noah Cates snuck the puck under Chrona's legs to give the Bulldogs a two-goal cushion. Less than a minute later, sophomore forward Cole Koepke converted from the blue line on a Pioneer empty net to extend the Bulldog advantage to 5-2.
- UMD and Denver would combine for a total of 27-penalty minutes in the first period with the Bulldogs claiming 21 of the minutes.
- The Bulldogs controlled the faceoff circle Saturday, winning 37 faceoffs compared to Denver's total of 25.
- Junior forward Justin Richard's was responsible for 17 of those faceoff wins while J. Cates chipped in another 14, en route to his 58th career win, which is two shy of a program record of 60 wins.
- Shepard picked up 29 total saves (.935 save percentage) in Saturday's victory.
The Bulldogs will look build on the momentum when they hit the road next Friday (Nov. 15) to kick off a pair of NCHC road assignments at Miami University (Ohio). Puck is set to drop at 6:05 p.m. at the Goggin Ice Center in Oxford, Ohio.