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Bulldogs score two goals late to earn split at Colorado College

Minnesota Duluth rebounded from Friday's 5-0 loss to the Tigers with a 3-1 win Saturday at Ed Robson Arena thanks to big goals by Owen Gallatin and Blake Biondi, plus timely saves by Matthew Thiessen.

Matthew Thiessen makes a save
Minnesota Duluth senior goaltender Matthew Thiessen makes a save on Colorado College freshman wing Gleb Veremyev on Saturday at Ed Robson Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Contributed / Casey B. Gibson / Colorado College Athletics

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Minnesota Duluth bounced back from what the team called an “embarassing” 5-0 loss at Colorado College on Friday by scoring two late goals Saturday to beat the Tigers 3-1 at Ed Robson Arena.

The Bulldogs earned a split in their opening NCHC series of the season — and returned to .500 at 5-5 overall — via goals by sophomore defenseman Owen Gallatin and junior wing Blake Biondi in the closing two minutes.

Gallatin scored the game-winning goal with 1:41 remaining in regulation by swatting a puck with his backhand toward the Colorado College crease. The puck hit Tigers freshman goalie Kaidan Mbereko and slipped in.

Just the second goal of the season for Gallatin and fourth of his career, he joked the game-winning goal was just as coach Scott Sandelin drew it up.

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“I just jumped down and Tanner (Laderoute) made a good read there, saw me going,” Gallatin said of Laderoute sending the puck across the zone to him in the far corner. “I caught a glance of Jesse (Jacques) in front of the net, a big body. Couldn’t hurt to throw it there, you know? I just got a fortunate bounce and it went in.”

Biondi clinched the win during a chaotic final 60 seconds, with Mbereko on the bench and the Bulldogs scrambling to hold off a Tigers’ attack. Biondi finally picked up a free puck near the UMD crease and sent it down the middle of the ice into an empty net.

One of the first people there to give Biondi a hug was senior goaltender Matthew Thiessen, who had endured a pretty quiet third period up until the final minute-plus of regulation.

Colorado College totaled just four shots on goal Saturday during the third period, but two came between Gallatin and Biondi’s goals as the Tigers scrambled to tie the game.

“It was kind of a slow (third) period for me,” said Thiessen, the transfer out of Maine who finished with 19 saves in his third start as a Bulldog. He stopped 17 of 18 shots in Friday’s loss after relieving senior goalie Zach Stejskal in the first period. “I think that they had one or two shots and then at the end there, you get peppered. It’s just, you got to stay mentally in it and you got to stay mentally focused. I think I did a good job of that, but you always got to be ready for anything. I really wanted to get those points for the team. My number was called and I was there to make a couple saves.”

The Bulldogs and Tigers went into the third period tied 1-1 after Colorado College fifth-year senior Bryan Yoon scored on the power play in the first period — beating a screened Thiessen — and UMD freshman wing Ben Steeves scored on a power play in the second — a one-timer from the right faceoff circle for his fourth goal of the year.

The Bulldogs thought they were the ones that struck first on Saturday just 75 seconds into the game when a shot by junior wing Quinn Olson hit freshman wing Isaac Howard before skipping into the net. However, an NCHC official who had a clear view of Howard ruled the puck went in off a high stick.

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The Bulldogs challenged the high-stick call, and lost — also costing UMD its timeout 1:15 into the game — because there was not sufficient video evidence from the Robson Arena cameras to overturn the call.

“I didn’t like the call in the first period, 1:15 in,” Sandelin said. “That’s why I don’t like all these challenges. I wasted a timeout when it shouldn’t have even been that. Whatever. Our guys stuck with it.”

Exuding patience — at least when talking with reporters — during the first month of the season as the new-look Bulldogs found their way, Sandelin was out of patience Friday after the 5-0 loss at Colorado College to open NCHC play.

The Bulldogs' three-time national championship coach, now in his 23rd season at UMD, said his team wasn’t ready. The loss was unacceptable, embarrassing and disappointing, he said.

On Saturday, Sandelin said his Bulldogs resembled more of a hockey team.

“We'll take the win, and hopefully the guys feel a little bit better. It was a good split,” said Sandelin, whose team hosts Omaha next week in NCHC play at Amsoil Arena. “We got a lot of work to do, but we got to get to take that and build off that this week.”

CC Hockey vs Minnesota Duluth, Nov. 5, 2022
Minnesota Duluth junior wing Blake Biondi (7) fires a puck down the ice into an empty net to secure a 3-1 victory for Minnesota Duluth over Colorado College on Saturday at Ed Robson Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Casey B. Gibson/Photo by Casey B. Gibson

Matt’s Three Stars

3. CC freshman goaltender Kaidan Mbereko — Starting back-to-back games for the first time in his college career, Mbereko made 32 saves on 34 shots Saturday, with a bad bounce beating him late.

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2. UMD senior goaltender Matthew Thiessen — With junior Zach Stejskal — and the rest of the team — off his game in the first period Friday, Thiessen answered the call. He finished with 36 saves on 38 shots over five-plus periods this weekend.

1. UMD sophomore defenseman Owen Gallatin — Gallatin was aiming for fifth-year senior center Jesse Jacques, but instead his pass bounced off CC’s Mbereko and in. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. “Hey, I’m not mad about it,” Gallatin said with a smile.

Box score

Minnesota Duluth 0-1-2—3
Colorado College 1-0-0—1
First period
1. CC, Bryan Yoon (Hunter McKown), 12:09 (pp)
Second period
2. UMD, Ben Steeves (Owen Gallatin, Derek Daschke), 7:08 (pp)
Third period
3. UMD, Gallatin (Tanner Laderoute, Derek Daschke), 18:19
4. UMD, Blake Biondi, 19:24 (en)
Saves — Matthew Thiessen, UMD, 19; Kaidan Mbereko, CC, 32.
Power play — UMD 1-3; CC 1-4. Penalties — UMD 8-16; CC 6-12.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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