DULUTH, Minn. — Minnesota Duluth senior forward Blake Young will play this weekend, but the Bulldogs could be without four others when it begins NCHC play at St. Cloud State.
The No. 8-ranked Bulldogs and No. 2-ranked Huskies meet at 7:37 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, and 4:07 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
UMD coach Scott Sandelin ruled out freshman wing Nick Swaney with an upper-body injury. Swaney, with two goals and five assists in eight games, is tied with sophomore wing Riley Tufte for the team high of seven points.
Sophomore wing Joey Anderson and sophomore defenseman Jarod Hilderman are listed as doubtful with upper-body injuries and senior forward Avery Peterson is questionable, also with an upper-body injury.
"We could be short a few guys," Sandelin said. "Everyone is going to have to step up and play. That's all we can do."
Young was knocked out of last Saturday's game in the first period from a high hit that left him struggling to get up. After being limited on Tuesday, Young was back practicing in full Wednesday, Nov. 1.
Young's return means the Bulldogs will have their fourth line — which also features sophomore center Jade Miller and junior wing Billy Exell — intact. It's been one of the team's most consistent lines.
"They're going to get tested this weekend," Sandelin said. "They're going to be in a situation playing against some pretty good forwards. St. Cloud is very deep up front."
Peterson was almost back to practicing in full with his teammates on Wednesday after getting injured a week ago in practice prior to the trip to Maine. Freshman wing Kobe Roth played in Peterson's place both nights.
Hilderman took a couple of hard hits Friday in Maine and missed Saturday's nonconference series finale. He was limited in practice Tuesday and wasn't on the ice for the end of practice Wednesday. That means freshman Louie Roehl, who played in place of Hilderman on Saturday, is likely to go again against the Huskies.
Where things get tricky for the Bulldogs is on the top line. Anderson and Swaney, who play alongside junior center Peter Krieger, were both injured Saturday at Maine. They haven't practiced yet this week.
All UMD's injuries could land senior center Sammy Spurrell back in the lineup for the second time this season and first time since the season opener. It also could mean the college debut of freshman forward Koby Bender of Cloquet, who Sandelin said is getting close to cracking the lineup.
"It's a big challenge for us missing some different lines because of potential injuries," Sandelin said. "Those things are going to hopefully jell quickly. It's nice, I think we have a couple lines that will stay together, a couple lines that will be different."
Youngsters lead unbeaten Huskies
Playing around eight sophomores and six freshmen each night in 2016-17, St. Cloud State posted its worst winning percentage in 12 seasons under coach Bob Motzko, going 16-19-1 (.458).
Now the Huskies, who were idle last week, are 5-0 and ranked second in both national polls after sweeping Alaska and Boston College at home and beating ninth-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato on the road.
Motzko said he really liked last year's team despite the results. He especially liked how they finished the season and then tackled the offseason. It's a team — now with three seniors, 10 juniors, five sophomores and seven freshmen — that has grown up, Motzko said.
"They picked up where they left off and it's amazing in college sports when you're a year older, a year stronger, a year more confident," Motzko said. "Things start to happen and that's what we're starting to see throughout our lineup right now."
The Huskies' top four goal-scorers last season — which includes senior captain and Duluth native Judd Peterson — combined for 48 goals last year. All four are back, but have scored only three goals combined.
A new group has stepped up to lead the scoring this season. Junior defenseman Jimmy Schuldt is leading the Huskies with 10 points via four goals and six assists. Sophomore forwards and twin brothers Jack and Nick Poehling also have a team-high four goals each while little brother Ryan, also a sophomore forward, is second on the team in scoring with two goals and six assists.
Motzko said his team can still reach another level offensively through its veterans, but it's nice to see his youngsters scoring goals, too.
"You wish that freshmen could come in and have that magic year but sometimes they have to get through a year to get to the other side of that process," Motzko said.
Kuhlman up for award
Bulldogs senior wing and captain Karson Kuhlman of Esko is one of 20 NCAA Division I men's hockey players nominated for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes student-athletes for their character and their achievements in the classroom, community and competition.
Kuhlman has yet to miss a game at UMD, taking a 130-game streak into this weekend's series at St. Cloud State. He has 63 career points and is a three-time NCHC All-Academic member with a 3.46 grade-point average.