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College men's hockey: Bulldogs swept aside by Denver

Minnesota Duluth goaltender Hunter Shepard extends his leg while attempting to stop a goal from Jarid Lukosevicius (14) Denver during Saturday, Dec. 2's, game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. (Clint Austin / Forum News Service)1 / 3
Parker Mackay (39) of Minnesota Duluth is upended by Tariq Hammond (3) of Denver during Saturday, Dec. 2's, game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. (Clint Austin / Forum News Service)2 / 3
Justin Richards (19) of Minnesota Duluth fights for the puck near Tariq Hammond (3) Henrik Borgstrom (5) and Liam Finlay (13) of Denver during the third period of Saturday, Dec. 2's, game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. (Clint Austin / Forum News Service)3 / 3

DULUTH — For the second time this season, Minnesota Duluth failed to pick up any points in a weekend of NCHC play.

Top-ranked Denver finished off a sweep of No. 16 UMD on Saturday in front of a crowd of 5,838 at Amsoil Arena, beating the Bulldogs 2-1.

The Pioneers shut out the Bulldogs 1-0 the night before. UMD coach Scott Sandelin wasn't pleased with his team's play in the opener, but felt better about Saturday night's effort despite the result.

"We did a great job tonight," said Sandelin, who was pleased with his team limiting Denver to just 15 shots. The Bulldogs had 28. "I thought defensively we changed some things and our guys executed well. ... Totally different feeling for me tonight than I had last night after our effort."

Freshman wing Jake Durflinger scored the game-winning goal for Denver with 4:04 remaining in regulation on a charge to the Bulldogs' net.

Pioneers junior wing Jarid Lukosevicius broke the scoreless tie in the final 30 seconds of the second period via a turnover by the Bulldogs behind their own net. Junior wing Logan O'Connor, who scored the lone goal Friday, nabbed the free puck and set up Lukosevicius for his sixth goal of the season.

Senior wing Blake Young finally got the Bulldogs on the board for the first time all weekend 8:32 into the third by driving to the net, where he used a half-spin to backhand the puck through. It was just the second goal of the season for Young.

Freshman wing Nick Swaney was credited with an assist on the play by picking up a rebound and feeding Young.

"Coach was preaching, 'Go to the net,' and we both were there. He did a nice job getting that rebound. He put it in an area and I happened to be there," Young said. "It popped out in a weird area and I did my best to get it on net."

The Bulldogs had a second chance to tie the game with 1:59 to go via the power play. That advantage was increased to 6-on-4 for the final 93 seconds with the goaltender pulled.

Bulldogs sophomore goalie Hunter Shepard of Cohasset stopped 13 of the 15 shots he faced Saturday after stopping 25 of 26 on Friday.

Pioneers senior goaltender Tanner Jaillet finished with 27 saves on Saturday after blanking the Bulldogs with 28 saves in a 1-0 win Friday.

This weekend's series between the Bulldogs and Pioneers was a rematch of the 2017 NCAA championship in Chicago. Lukosevicius recorded a hat trick that night in a 3-2 win for the Pioneers. Jaillet had 38 saves.

The Pioneers and Bulldogs were not only the top two teams in the country a year ago, but the NCHC's leaders, with Denver winning the regular-season conference title and UMD finishing runner-up, only to turn around and claim the league's postseason championship.

Denver (9-3-2 overall, 5-3 NCHC) currently sits tied for third in the NCHC. The Bulldogs (7-8-2, 2-6), who were swept at St. Cloud State earlier this season, have some work ahead of them, sitting seventh in the league and nine points back of home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

"Going into a weekend you need points, especially in this league," UMD junior center Peter Krieger said. "You don't realize how hard it is until you play in it. Every weekend, you have to find ways to get points.

"We can't really focus too hard on that now. We have to control what we can moving forward."

Both teams have one more NCHC series to go next weekend before the holiday break, with the Bulldogs traveling to last-place Nebraska-Omaha and Denver playing a home-and-home with fifth-place Colorado College.

• Denver senior defenseman Adam Plant missed Saturday's game after taking a heavy hit toward the end of the second period Friday. Plant had to be helped to the Denver bench after the hit and to the locker room at the end of the period, but he returned to play the third period.

Denver 0-1-1—2

Minn. Duluth 0-0-1—1

First period — No scoring. Penalties — Griffin Mendel, DU (interference), 1:21; Scott Perunovich, UMD (hooking), 8:07.

Second period — 1. DU, Jarid Lukosevicius 6 (Logan O'Connor, Colin Staub), 19:39. Penalties — none.

Third period — 2. UMD, Blake Young 2 (Nick Swaney, Jared Thomas), 8:32; 3. DU, Jake Durflinger 4 (Kohen Olischefski, Tariq Hammond), 15:56. Penalties — Joey Anderson, UMD (hooking), 1:14; Lukosevicius, DU (tripping), 18:01.

Shots on goal — DU 4-7-4—15; UMD 6-11-11—28. Goalies — Tanner Jaillet, DU (28 shots-27 saves); Hunter Shepard, UMD (15-13). Power plays — DU 0-of-2; UMD 0-of-2. Referees — Todd Anderson, Nathan Wieler. Linesmen — Kevin Cassidy, Sterling Egan. Att. — 5,838.

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

(218) 723-5317
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