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Third-period penalties doom Bulldogs in 5-3 loss at Western Michigan

The Broncos scored two goals thanks to UMD penalties in the third period to split the NCHC series in Kalamazoo.

UMD freshman Kyle Bettens
Minnesota Duluth freshman wing Kyle Bettens skates with the puck in the Bulldogs zone against Western Michigan on Saturday at Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Ashley Huss / Western Michigan University Athletics

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Minnesota Duluth overcame a late penalty on Friday, and used it to the team’s advantage to beat Western Michigan 5-4 in the series opener.

The Bulldogs weren’t as fortunate on Saturday in the series finale as the Broncos took advantage of two third-period penalties by UMD to salvage a split of the NCHC series, winning 5-3 at Lawson Ice Arena.

Junior center Luke Grainger tied the game during a delayed Bulldogs penalty midway through the third period and fifth-year senior wing Jamie Rome scored the game-winner on the power play with 3:28 left in the game. Grainger added an empty net goal in the final minute.

“Overall, just not great,” said UMD fifth-year senior wing and captain Tanner Laderoute of the loss. “We definitely had more to give and we didn't bring that. We kind of got shellshocked on a couple of starts of periods, or at the end of a period. We have to tighten that up and play a full 60 minutes.”

The Bulldogs were 2.1 seconds away from taking a two-goal lead into the third period on Saturday, however, Broncos freshman wing Ryan McAllister finished a late flurry in front of the UMD net to bring WMU back within a goal at the second intermission.

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Only about 100 seconds earlier, UMD took a two-goal lead after freshman wing Isaac Howard sprung sophomore center Dominic James and freshman wing Ben Steeves for a two-on-one attack. James held for the shot and Steeves put away the rebound for his team-leading eighth goal of the season.

“The goal at the end of the second period was really tough to take,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said. “You go into the third period with a 3-1 lead instead of giving them momentum. And then we didn't come out and play very well in the third period. I would have felt better if we would have played harder like we did Friday night for the whole game and make them play really well, but I just felt like we gave them a lot of easy stuff.”

After putting up six goals in the opening 9:03 on Friday, the Bulldogs and Broncos limited themselves to three goals in the opening 20 minutes on Saturday with the Bulldogs leading 2-1 at the first intermission.

Freshman wing Cole Spicer — who left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury after getting slammed hard into the boards along the UMD bench and did not return — gave UMD an initial 1-0 lead on the power play five-plus minutes in. James sniped UMD to a 2-1 lead with 90 seconds left in the first.

“We were definitely good enough, but again, it comes down to the third period,” James said. “We have a lead, we have to stick with that lead and not be scared to lose it. We got to play on our toes and continue to play hard hockey, which we didn't. We weren't on our toes and you see what happens.”

Senior defenseman Zak Galambos, a transfer from American International, tied the game at 1-1 with a shot that deflected past UMD senior goaltender Matthew Thiessen, a transfer from Maine, 8:22 into the first period.

Thiessen was challenged early and often by the Broncos, making eight saves in the opening period. His team was then outshot in the opening 10-plus minutes of the second by an 11-1 margin. Thiessen finished with 31 saves on 35 shots as UMD was outshot 36-20 by Western on Saturday.

“You're not always going to win pretty and tonight was going to be one of those games where it was going to be hard,” Sandelin said. “The ice was going to be contested. We didn't handle it like we should have, but give credit to them. They played a good game. They don't want to get swept on their home ice. We had them in a position even going into the third period.”

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Matt’s Three Stars

3. UMD sophomore center Dominic James — Gave UMD the lead late in the first period and appeared to set up the kill shot by Ben Steeves late in the second until things came unraveled. James was also 61.5 percent in the faceoff circle Saturday.

2. WMU fifth-year senior Jamie Rome — Scored the game-winner on the power play with under four minutes remaining.

1. WMU junior center Luke Grainger — A three-point night for the Montreal native who scored the game-tying goal and clinched the game with an empty-netter.

Box score

Minnesota Duluth 2-1-0—3
Western Michigan 1-1-3—5
First period
1. UMD, Cole Spicer (Carter Loney, Owen Gallatin), 5:20 (pp)
2. WMU, Zak Galambos (Chad Hillebrand, Cole Gallant), 8:22
3. UMD, Dominic James (Ben Steeves), 18:30
Second period
4. UMD, Steeves (James, Isaac Howard), 18:17
5. WMU, Ryan McAllister (Jason Polin, Luke Grainger), 19:57
Third period
6. WMU, Grainger (McAllister, Max Sasson), 9:48 (ea)
7. WMU, Jamie Rome (Carter Berger, Jason Polin), 16:32 (pp)
8. WMU, Grainger (McAllister), 19:14 (en)
Saves — Matthew Thiessen, UMD, 31; Cameron Rowe, WMU, 17.
Power play — UMD 1-4; WMU 1-5. Penalties — UMD 5-10; WMU 4-8.

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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