Bulldogs fail to take advantage of major power play, lose 3-0 to Colorado College
Minnesota Duluth drops the first of what coach Scott Sandelin called four important home games in December.
DULUTH — Following a scoreless first period, Minnesota Duluth was granted a golden opportunity early in the second period to take control of Friday’s game against Colorado College when the Tigers were assessed a major penalty for checking senior wing Luke Loheit from behind.
Instead, the Bulldogs gave up a shorthanded goal to fall behind en route to a 3-0 loss to the Tigers in the first of four straight home games to close out the schedule before final exams and Christmas.
UMD sees Colorado College again at 7:07 p.m. Saturday at Amsoil Arena with league-leading and No. 1-ranked Denver visiting next weekend.
“We’re a little desperate,” UMD junior defenseman Wyatt Kaiser said of what was an emotional game between two conference rivals that played each other four weeks prior in Colorado Springs. “We’re trying to put together some wins, trying to get on the right track. We’re clawing back against it.”
Tigers freshman wing Cade Ahrenholz sent Loheit — who remained in the game after being attended to briefly — into the door to the UMD bench just shy of 90 seconds into the second period. His hit was reviewed and deemed a major penalty — though no game misconduct, so Ahrenholz remained in the game — putting UMD on the power play for five minutes.
A minute into the major, Tigers senior wing Patrick Cozzi broke loose for a shorthanded breakaway that he was not only able to score on, but draw a slashing penalty from UMD’s leading goal scorer, freshman wing Ben Steeves.
CC took another penalty with 42 seconds left in Ahrenholz’s major penalty to not only extended the Bulldogs advantage, but also give UMD a 5-on-3 power play for the final 42 seconds of the major.
The Bulldogs generated 12 shots on goal over the five total minutes they were on the power play, but failed to get any of those past Tigers freshman goalie Kaidan Mbereko, who finished with a collegiate-high 39 saves on Friday.
Mbereko’s previous career-high for saves was 34, first set in the Tigers’ 5-0 win over UMD on Nov. 4 in Colorado Springs.
“You don’t score goals, you don't get any energy. We had plenty of chances to score,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “Now we shoot ourselves in the foot and make mistakes and they end up in our net. It’s that simple. And we get back in the game, we take couple dumb penalties in the third period — It's not a good recipe.”
Friday’s game featured a combined 17 penalties for 37 minutes with UMD taking nine penalties — including five in the third period — and CC taking 19 penalty minutes because of the major. There were 10 total power plays between the two teams spanning nearly 16 minutes.
Because of injuries and illnesses that left UMD short players in practice throughout the week , the Bulldogs didn’t get to work on its special teams until Thursday, and was still tweaking things on Friday morning.
Despite the “weird week” of practice, Loheit said the team liked what they were able to do on the power play, generating 16 shots on goal. They just need to score.
“It's just execution. We got to put the puck in the net. We made some good plays. We just got to bear down,” Loheit said. “We’re going the right things and it’ll come. We just have to stay on it.”
The Bulldogs had more than enough healthy bodies Friday for the series opener against Colorado College, though sophomore center Dominic James was unable to go. James leads all UMD forwards in average ice time at 20:37 per game. He’s also the team’s leader in the faceoff circle at 55%, having won 143 of 258 draws this year.
UMD still won the faceoff battle 39-37, with fifth-year senior Jesse Jacques going 16-10 (61.5%).
Freshman defenseman Aidan Dubinsky (who has missed the previous three games) and sophomore forward Kyler Kleven (out long-term) also missed Friday’s game, though they had already been ruled out for previous injuries.
Matt’s Three Stars
3. CC junior wing Hunter McKown — Two goals for McKown, including a key goal late in the second period and then the empty netter with three seconds left.
2. CC senior wing Patrick Cozzi — Despite getting slashed, he scored a crucial shorthanded goal for the Tigers.
1. CC freshman goaltender Kaidan Mbereko — A career-high 39 saves for his second shutout of the season. Both shutouts have come against UMD.
Colorado College 0-2-1—3
Minnesota Duluth 0-0-0—0
1. CC, Patrick Cozzi (Connor Mayer, Noah Prokop), 2:30 (sh)
2. CC, Hunter McKown (Stanley Cooley, Matthew Gleason), 16:27
3. CC, Hunter McKown (Nicklas Andrews, Bryan Yoon), 19:57 (en)
Saves — Kaidan Mbereko, CC, 39; Matthew Thiessen, UMD, 28.
Power play — CC 0-5; UMD 0-5. Penalties CC 8-19; UMD 9-18.