Ninth-ranked Minnesota Duluth used another third period surge on Saturday to gain key points in the NCHC regular season title race, battling back for a 3-3 overtime tie against Western Michigan before a crowd of 6,012 at Amsoil Arena.
Sophomore wing Tanner Laderoute and junior defenseman Scott Perunovich scored in the third period for the Bulldogs, who on Friday night scored a trio of goals in the third for a 6-3 victory.
Broncos senior center Hugh McGing scored in the second round of the sudden-death shootout after a scoreless 3-on-3 period to give Western a bonus point in the league standings. UMD remains second in the league, but now only three points back of league-leading North Dakota after starting the weekend staring down a four-point deficit.
“This group doesn’t quit. They showed that,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said. “Scotty got a big goal for us. It was a wide open game, a lot of entertainment. Maybe not a coach’s dream, but it was a hard-earned point.”
A night after jumping on the Broncos with the first two goals and first seven shots on goal en route to a 6-3 win, the Bulldogs found themselves getting outshot 7-1 early and down 1-0 at the first intermission. That margin was extended to two goals by the second intermission.
Laderoute pulled UMD within a goal 9:11 into the third, scoring his fifth goal of the season on a third chance, putting away the second rebound Broncos senior goaltender Ben Blacker surrendered on the UMD attack.
“I just kind of crept down in one of those spots where it's a high percentage spot. I was just playing the percentages there and you need to kind of get there sometimes,” Laderoute said. “The puck just perfectly squeaked to me and I happen to be there. It was a little bit of a gift, but it got us back on the board there and kind of started that push. I'm just happy that I can help in those ways.”
Perunovich tied the game with a wrap around just under three minutes later while each side was down a skater.
UMD was initially on a power play after Western senior wing Dawson DiPietro was called for hooking. UMD sophomore wing Noah Cates was then sent to the penalty box for boarding chasing down Western freshman wing Jason Polin on a shorthanded attack.
It was a boarding call few inside Amsoil Arena agreed with, especially those on the Bulldogs’ bench, but Perunovich said he and his teammates found a way to use that moment to their advantage.
“It fired some guys up,” Perunovich said. “That’s exactly what happened. We took a negative experience and turned it into a positive experience and created some momentum.”
The Broncos ended up with an abbreviated power play because of the Cates penalty, and got another with under two minutes to play in overtime.
UMD killed both penalties and all five of the Broncos power plays on Saturday thanks in large part to senior goaltender Hunter Shepard. In his 101st consecutive start, the Cohasset native tied his career high of 41 saves, making 17 stops on the penalty kill and 20 in the third period and overtime.
“On the penalty kill he made some great saves,” Sandelin said. “Especially when they got the puck going from dot-to-dot. That’s what you need him for. I thought he was huge on the penalty kill because they found some seams and they god some pretty good looks. He was there to close the door.”
Broncos junior wing Josh Passolt, who grew up 75 miles from Duluth across the border in Hayward, Wis., scored twice for Western, giving the Broncos a 1-0 lead in the first a 3-1 advantage after two periods when a shot by sophomore defenseman Mattias Samuelsson deflected off sophomore wing Cole Gallant and Passolt’s skate before finding the back of the UMD net with 1.2 seconds left on the clock.
The opening minutes of the second saw UMD junior center Justin Richards tied the game for a mere 35 seconds before sophomore wing Rhett Kingston put Western back on top.
Richards’ goal in the second extended his point streak to five games while sophomore wing Cole Koepke, who assisted on the score, ran his point streak to a personal-best seven games. The Hermantown native now has a point in 12 of his last 13 games.
Richards’ goal in the second was the subject of a lengthy video review that failed to conclusively prove Koepke was offside when he entered the zone chasing a long pass by fellow Hermantown native Dylan Samberg, a junior defenseman.
While that review went the Bulldogs way, one later in the second that would have tied the game at 2-2 did not. Initially waved off for goaltender interference when sophomore center Jackson Cates put the puck in the net, video review confirmed the referee’s initial call that UMD junior wing Nick Swaney prevented Blacker from getting back to the crease to stop the shot.
“We faced adversity a little bit,” Sandelin said. “Our killers did a good job. You control what you can control.”
Western Michigan 1-2-0-0—3
Minnesota Duluth 0-1-2-0—3
First period — 1. WMU, Josh Passolt 2 (Drew Worrad, Kale Bennett), 13:46.
Second period — 2. UMD, Justin Richards 7 (Cole Koepke, Quinn Olson), 1:22; 3. WMU, Rhet Kingston 6 (Cole Gallant, Michael Joyaux), 1:57; 4. WMU, Passolt 3 (Cole Gallant, Mattias Samuelsson), 19:58.
Third period — 5. UMD, Tanner Laderoute 5 (Jade Miller, Scott Perunovich), 9:11; 6. UMD, Perunovich 3 (Richards), 11:48.
Overtime — No scoring
Shots on goal — WMU 10-14-13-7—44; UMD 11-14-9-1—35. Goalies — Ben Blacker, WMU (35 shots-32 saves); Hunter Shepard, UMD (44-41). Power plays — WMU 0-of-5; UMD 0-of-5. Penalties — WMU 6-12; UMD 6-12. Referees — Gino Binda, Joe Sullivan. Linesmen — Nick Biondich, Elliott Bucholz. Att. — 6,012.