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UMD men's hockey: Bulldogs travel to Denver looking to close better than they have

After going 12-0 when taking a lead into the third period to start the season, UMD has given up third-period leads in each of its last two games, resulting in the loss of four NCHC points in the standings.

Minnesota Duluth’s Tanner Laderoute (13) passes the puck out of the corner past Denver’s Justin Lee (32) in the first period of the Bulldogs’ 5-0 loss to Denver at Amsoil Arena on Friday evening, Dec. 10, 2021.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

DULUTH — Off the ice, members of the Minnesota Duluth’s men’s hockey team find themselves in the thick of the 2022 spring semester.

On the ice, however, Bulldogs senior wing Tanner Laderoute is tired of the lessons that seem to keep needing repeating to he and his teammates.

Sixth-ranked UMD is at NCHC-leading and No. 3-ranked Denver for an 8 p.m. game Friday and 7 p.m. game Saturday at Magness Arena this weekend. The Bulldogs go into the conference series coming off two games in which they led going into the third period, but only emerged with a single league point.

The Bulldogs lost 3-2 in overtime at home to Western Michigan Jan. 29 after leading 2-1 going into the third and on Tuesday, UMD led 2-0 at St. Cloud State before settling for a 2-2 overtime tie and shootout loss .

College Men's hockey players compete on Olympic size ice sheet
Minnesota Duluth forward Dominic James (17) moves the puck on goal against St. Cloud State goaltender David Hrenak (34) on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

“I thought we played a really good 40 (minutes),” Laderoute said after the tie and shootout loss Tuesday at St. Cloud State. “Going into the third with a lead, you can’t give those up. It isn’t really time for learning lessons anymore. We’re kind of past that point where lessons need to be learned. We need to learn to play 60 minutes.”


Prior to the last two games, the Bulldogs were 12-0 when taking a lead into the third period, so the inability to close out games is just a recent problem, one that cost UMD four valuable points in the NCHC standings.

Otherwise, Sandelin said he’s very pleased with how his team has played over the last three games, having beaten the Broncos 5-4 last Friday before being taken to OT the last two games.

“The only thing disappointing was we were in position to win those games leading going into the third period and we didn’t close teams out,” Sandelin said. “They are hard lessons to learn and hopefully we continue to put ourselves in those positions down to stretch to close games out. Those are valuable points.”

UMD enters this weekend’s series against the Pioneers fourth in the NCHC with 26 points. UMD is five points ahead of fifth-place St. Cloud State and six back of third-place Western Michigan. Denver has a 12-point advantage on the Bulldogs.

The Pioneers have won eight straight games — all in NCHC play — to open up a five-point lead on North Dakota, who sat atop the standings until late January. Denver is 9-0-1 in its last 10 games with the most recent loss coming to the Bulldogs, 6-2, in the series finale at Amsoil Arena in Duluth on Dec. 11.

Denver had won seven straight games prior to Dec. 11, including a 5-0 decision at UMD on Dec. 10. The blanking of the Bulldogs is one of five shutouts posted by Denver in its last six games, with four coming during its eight-game win streak.

“They’re a dangerous team with skill and they are great off the rush. They’re as good as any team in the country playing as groups of five in all three zones,” Sandelin said.

“Everybody talks about their offense, I think they play very well defensively. They don’t give you a lot defensively. They outnumber you, they swarm you, they play as a group of five and they make it very hard to make a lot of clean plays under pressure.”


Senior forward Bobby Brink leads the Pioneers in scoring with 41 points off nine goals and 32 assist. Sophomore forward Carter Savoie has a team-high 16 goals.

The Bulldogs will be without two key offensive pieces against the Pioneers. Senior wing and captain Noah Cates is off scoring highlight-reel goals for the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, which opened preliminary play at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing with an 8-0 win over the hosts, China . Cates scored in the second period to make it 2-0, sparking a second-period surge.

Freshman center Dominic James has been ruled out this weekend after suffering an upper-body injury Tuesday at St. Cloud State. Sandelin said James will “hopefully” be ready to go next weekend when the Bulldogs host North Dakota.

Sandelin suggested Wednesday that junior forward Ben Almquist could fill James’ hole on the line chart, especially if sophomore wing Luke Mylymok is able to play in Denver. Mylymok has been out all season due to injury.

“He's worked hard, he's worked hard,” Sandelin said of Mylymok, who scored the game-winning goal in the five-overtime regional final win over North Dakota in Fargo last season. “Last week was his first full week of practice. He's kind of eased back into it. It’s a good time to hopefully get him back and maybe get him in this weekend.”

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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