Bulldogs get sucked into track meet, fall 5-2 to Badgers for third-straight loss
Wisconsin wins its first game in five tries this season as it returns to Duluth for the first time since 2012.
DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth lost its third-straight game while Wisconsin picked up its first win of the season in five tries as the Badgers beat the No. 10-ranked Bulldogs 5-2 Friday at Amsoil Arena.
This weekend’s series between the Bulldogs and Badgers is the first between the two former WCHA rivals in Duluth since Oct. 26-27, 2012. That was the last year they were conference rivals before Wisconsin went to the Big Ten and UMD to the NCHC.
UMD (2-3) and Wisconsin (1-4) meet again at 6:07 p.m. Saturday at Amsoil Arena.
“I was talking before the game with a couple guys about back in the 80s, the 7-6 games,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said about the history with Wisconsin. “That game could have easily been 6-5. It's not like we didn't have chances. We had the right guys with the puck and they’re not scoring.
“You can’t turn the puck over, you can’t play soft that way. You just can’t. You’re not going to win games.”
The Bulldogs struck first on Friday via a power play goal by senior wing Luke Loheit, but still found themselves trailing 2-1 at the first intermission and 3-2 at the second.
Badgers freshman wing Cruz Lucius — the former Minnesota recruit out of Gentry Academy — set up freshman center Charlie Stramel for a goal atop the crease three minutes after Loheit gave UMD the lead. Lucius then put the Badgers ahead with a backhander from the slot.
A shot from the point on the power play by UMD freshman wing Isaac Howard — the first-round NHL draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning out of Hudson, Wisconsin — bounced in off UMD junior Blake Biondi of Hermantown and tied the game back up at 2-2 just 23 seconds into the second period.
However, Wisconsin fifth-year senior Jack Gorniak, a Montreal Canadians prospect like Biondi, burned the Bulldogs and beat junior goaltender Zach Stejskal with just under five minutes to go in the second to again put UMD behind heading into the third period.
Loheit said the Bulldogs were playing too loose on Friday, and they need to do a better job of getting pucks behind opposing defensemen, they need to forecheck and they need to drive the net.
“We got a young team and I think that's the biggest thing guys are learning right now. In college hockey — we were just talking about it — we're not going to win playing track meets every weekend,” Loheit said. “Especially when we get into our league, when we start playing the Denvers and North Dakotas, it's just not going to work.”
In 10 intermissions over five games this season, the Bulldogs have been behind at seven of them. Friday was the third-straight game UMD trailed heading into the third, and the fourth time the Bulldogs fell behind during the third.
Back-to-back power plays that began with less than 10 minutes to play in regulation gave UMD a chance to battle back in Friday’s game down two goals, but the Bulldogs failed to convert on either after striking on man advantages in the first and second periods.
Wisconsin did score on the power play in the third to extend their lead. Bucky’s fourth goal of the night, scored by former Denver Pioneer Ty Smilanic, came on a major power play after UMD junior defenseman Wyatt Kaiser was ejected from the game 3:47 into the third for high-sticking.
Bulldogs fifth-year senior wing and captain Tanner Laderoute said “catch-up hockey” is not a recipe for success for UMD.
“It's just so much harder,” Laderoute said. “You have to take a little bit more risks that you shouldn't be taking. But that just comes back to starting on time. I think we've had good starts right away, and then it's kind of faltered. Trying to find that consistency through periods is something that we need to learn. We have so much to learn, but it's coming time where we have to start learning a little quicker.”
Matt’s Three Stars
3. Wisconsin freshman wing Cruz Lucius: He was arguably the most skilled player on the ice. He finished with a goal an an assist that erased UMD’s early 1-0 lead.
2. Wisconsin senior goaltender Jared Moe: The former Minnesota Gopher goalie finished with 38 saves as UMD was unable to get to the rebounds he was giving up.
1. Wisconsin fifth-year Jack Gorniak: After coming into the weekend with no points, Gorniak finished with a goal and two assists.
Minnesota Duluth 1-1-0—2
1. UMD, Luke Loheit (Ben Steeves, Carter Loney), 10:58 (pp)
2. UW, Charlie Stramel (Cruz Lucius, Mathieu De. St. Phalle), 14:06
3. UW, Lucius (Corson Ceulmans, Mike Vorlicky), 17:04
4. UMD, Blake Biondi (Isaac Howard, Derek Dashcke), 0:23 (pp)
5. UW, Jack Gorniak (Ceulmans), 15:02
6. UW, Ty Smilanic (Ben Dexheimer, Gorniak), 5:17 (pp)
7. UW, Lindmark (Gorniak), 17:34 (en)
Saves — Jared Moe, UW, 38; Zach Stejskal, UMD, 31.
Power play — UW 1-4; UMD 2-6. Penalty kill — UW 6-12; UMD 4-19.