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Matt Wellens | Duluth News Tribune | February 2, 2020

No. 10 Minnesota Duluth hockey completes sweep of No. 4 Denver

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Junior wing Nick Swaney scored two goals and junior defenseman Scott Perunovich finished with three assists as 10th-ranked Minnesota Duluth finished off a weekend sweep of No. 4 Denver via a 4-1 victory in NCHC play Saturday at Magness Arena.

Senior goaltender Hunter Shepard finished with 24 saves as the Bulldogs penalty kill held the Pioneers' power play to just 1-for-7 on the night and 2-for-11 on the weekend.

"This is a big weekend for us coming off the last couple," Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said. "I thought we took a step last weekend against a really good North Dakota team. Then to come in here and get a couple wins was good for our morale. I thought our guys played a really good hockey game tonight and we needed to to beat a good team."

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Sophomore wing Jackson Cates put the Bulldogs on top 1-0 in the second period on a solo breakaway. The play began with Perunovich picking up the puck on a delayed Denver offside. He fired the puck through the neutral zone to Cates, who went on to beat Denver junior goaltender Devin Cooley through the five hole.

Perunovich set up the Bulldogs' second goal of the night just 39 seconds into the third period to make it 2-0. The Hibbing native picked up his own rebound, and dished it to the slot for Swaney, who buried his 10th goal of the year.

Swaney and Perunovich connected again midway through the third period on the power play, resulting in the 11th goal of the season for Swaney and third assist of the night for Perunovich.

"Believe it or not, Shep could have made that pass to Jackson," Perunovich said, giving all the credit to his teammates for Saturday's points. "Things just seem to be clicking for us tonight and go our way."

Sophomore wing Cole Koepke scored on an empty net late in the game to clinch a win that keeps UMD second in the NCHC, but still eight points back of league-leading North Dakota.

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Denver cut the Bulldogs' lead in half 7:44 into the third with a power play goal by sophomore wing Emilio Pettersen. The score came on the Pioneers' seventh power play chance of the night. They were shut down on their first six opportunities.

The Bulldogs only had four power play chances all night spanning just 2:46 after getting six that spanned 9:32 in Friday's tight 3-2 win. None of the Bulldogs' four power plays Saturday ever went the distance with penalties killing the first two early — nine and 48 seconds in — and Swaney's goal ending the third 52 seconds early. The fourth came in the final minute with 41 seconds on the clock.

"Like I said last night, special teams is something that can win or lose you hockey games and I think the kill was a big reason why we came out on top tonight," Swaney said.

UMD was without junior defenseman Dylan Samberg again on Saturday due to injury. It was the second-straight game he missed. The Hermantown native — who has no goals this season, but is second on the team in assists with 15 — was injured in the final two minutes of last Saturday's game against North Dakota at Amsoil Arena. Samberg made the trip to Denver this weekend after skating during the week at Amsoil, but not practicing.

This article is written by Matt Wellens from Duluth News Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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