Over the weekend, reigning CHN Team of the Week Minnesota-Duluth continued its red hot play with a two-game sweep against Minnesota. CHN’s Kara Hille was there, and here she takes a look back:
UMD dominant in in-state rivalry matchup against Minnesota
By Kara Hille
With an in-state rivalry like the one between the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and UMD Bulldogs, there’s a demand for high-energy play from the moment the puck drops. Though the Gophers were 134-73-17 against UMD, the Bulldogs were the first to get on the board Friday night at Mariucci Arena in their 225th match against “The U.”
Bulldogs sophomore Austin Farley scored just over two minutes into the first, putting UMD on trend for a possessive period, outshooting the Gophers 15-7.
“They obviously come out flying right away,” said Gopher forward, Justin Kloos following the game. “There’s a lot of Minnesota kids in that locker room, so I think they have this one marked on the calendar.”
Facing the Bulldogs without key players, the Gophers looked to fill gaps left by defenseman Brady Skjei and forward Travis Boyd, both players suffering lower-body injuries earlier in the season.
The series opener was without a doubt a battle of the goaltenders, pitting Gopher senior Adam Wilcox to UMD newcomer, Kasimir Kaskisuo. By the end of the second, Wilcox faced just nearly twice the shots as Kaskisuo, making an additional nine saves as sophomore defenseman Dan Molenaar scored his first career goal for the Bulldogs halfway through the period. UMD kept their opponents on their heels through the end of the second period – causing Minnesota’s frustration to boil over in the third.
In the third period, the Bulldogs were able to capitalize on another Minnesota penalty. Scoring his eighth goal of the season, Dominic Toninato, a second-generation UMD forward, put the Bulldogs up 3-0, which would remain the score until the 60 minutes of play were over.
The final period saw four Gopher penalties including a five-minute boarding major for senior Christian Isackson shortly following Toninato’s goal. UMD registered two minor penalties while Minnesota racked up 17 penalty minutes in total.
“I was really disappointed, I had not seen that, I’m embarrassed with some of those penalties at the end,” said head coach Don Lucia. “That’s not the way we play, that’s not the way we coach.”
In the first game of the series, the Bulldogs outshot the Gophers 38-17. Though Wilcox made a season-high 35 saves, UMD handed Minnesota its first home loss in 17 games – since they last played Minnesota Duluth on Nov. 24, 2013.
“For the second time in two years, we didn’t match their intensity and we had a similar outcome,” said Kloos on Friday night. “It’s really disappointing right now, but we get to get some revenge tomorrow.”
The revenge would have to wait.
Much like Friday night, the Saturday tilt played at Amsoil Arena in Duluth opened with an early Bulldog goal from Toninato at only 28 seconds into the game. The first period finished 2-0 as freshman Karson Kuhlman scored his fourth goal of the season and the third UMD power play goal of the series after Hudson Fasching was sent to the box for slashing.
Shortly thereafter, UMD’s Justin Crandall was handed a five-minute major for kneeing as well as a game misconduct. In a scoreless second period, Minnesota’s AJ Michaelson received five minutes for checking from behind as well as a game misconduct.
In front of a record crowd of 7,424 at Amsoil, Leon Bristedt was the first and only Gopher goal of the series, finding the back of Kaskisuo’s net with under nine minutes left in the game assisted by Seth Ambroz and Jack Glover. The rally, however, was too little too late for Minnesota, and the score remained 2-1 until the end of regulation.
By the end of the third, UMD outshot Minnesota for the second night in a row, this time 34-25. Though the Gophers were able to put more pucks in front of Kaskisuo, Wilcox kept them in the game with numerous show-stopping saves.
In true rivalry fashion, the series finished in a flurry of penalties. Four minors were assessed for unsportsmanlike conduct, shared by UMD’s Carson Soucy and Alex Iafallo as well as Minnesota’s Michael Brodzinski and Leon Bristedt.
Minnesota Duluth swept Minnesota for the first time since 2009.
Though the all-time record now stands at 134-75-17 in Minnesota’s favor, there’s no doubt they’re still looking for revenge. There’s a possibility the teams could meet in late January as part of the North State College Cup at the Xcel Energy Center.
For now, Minnesota Duluth will travel to face Nebraska-Omaha (6-1-1) this weekend while the Gophers take on the US Under-18 team back at Mariucci on Friday night.