By Matt Wellens
HOUGHTON, Mich. — Third-ranked Minnesota Duluth wrapped up a nonconference series sweep of No. 19 Michigan Tech with a 5-2 victory on Saturday before a crowd of 3,100 at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Houghton, Mich.
All five of the Bulldogs goals came in the second period with freshman wing Tanner Laderoute getting the first two of his collegiate career. Sophomore defenseman Dylan Samberg, junior wing Riley Tufte and senior captain Parker Mackay also scored.
Below are the night’s thumbs up and thumbs down from News Tribune college hockey writer Matt Wellens, plus his three stars of the night.
Thumbs up to Samberg and Tufte scoring goals
As I said to Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin in the postgame, Dylan Samberg and Riley Tufte do not need to be 30-goal scorers for this team to thrive. But they do need to put the puck in the net more often than not.
They’re the players UMD should turn to for goals in key situations and both came up big Saturday to ignite the blaze of goals in the second.
Samberg — who missed last Sunday’s game at Minnesota with an upper body injury and was ejected during the second period of Friday’s game at Tech — picked up the first Bulldog goal of the night. The Hermantown native and 2017 second round draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets scored on a one-timer 77 seconds into the second period.
Not only was Samberg’s one-timer well placed — he kept the puck low, on the ice — it was well timed. UMD just dominated the Huskies in the first period by outshooting the hosts 13-2 (with one of those Tech shots on goal being a mystery to us in the pressbox). UMD dominated possession in the first, even getting two power plays, but had little to show for it. Samberg’s goal early in the second changed that.
The Huskies were able to tie the game at the five-minute mark of the second, but Tufte was able to offer a response at 11:09 to put UMD back on top. The goal came just seven seconds into a power play.
UMD won the opening faceoff in the Huskies zone and Tufte, the 6-foot-6 2016 first round pick of the Dallas Stars, unleashed a rocket on the Tech net. The rebound came out to sophomore wing Nick Swaney, who after “blowing a tire” (Swaney’s words) made a sprawling pass from his stomach to get the puck back to Tufte. The former Blaine standout unleashed another blast on net and this time it went through to put UMD back on top.
Sandelin said it was especially nice for Riley to get on the board Saturday.
“He wants to score and we’re counting on him to score goals. It’s always nice to get that first one. He had a couple chances at it, but he got into both of those,” Sandelin said.
“Obviously Dylan, anytime we can get contributions from our back end like last year, that helps our offense. That was a big goal. It gave us a 1-0 lead and got us jump started.”
Thumbs down to the last goal given up
It’s only Game 4 of 34 in the regular season, so we have to find something the Bulldogs can improve upon from Saturday’s win.
What do you think, Scott?
“I didn’t like to see the last one go in,” Sandelin said of the Huskies goal that came with 49.8 seconds left in regulation, making it a 5-2 game and giving locals 20-percent off their order at Domino’s tomorrow instead of 10-percent. “I’m always one for not giving up many (goals).”
Anything that encourages people to possibly eat more bad pizza is something worth giving a “Thumbs down” to in my book, so there you go.
Matt’s Three Stars
3. Bulldogs freshman wing Cole Koepke: The rookie out of Hermantown has two points in four games now, getting his second assist Saturday. He forced a turnover behind the Huskies net late in the second and fed a great pass to captain Parker Mackay in the slot to make it 3-1 Bulldogs.
2. Bulldogs senior wing Parker Mackay: The captain now has two goals on the season. He had two points Saturday for three on the weekend (2-1—3). He’s leading the way with big goals right now.
1. Bulldogs freshman wing Tanner Laderoute: The rookie picked up the first two goals of his college career tonight to shut this game down. He was scratched the first night of the season, but I don’t expect to see him in the stands again anytime soon.
Matt Wellens (@mattwellens) can be reached at email@example.com or (218) 723-5317.