For the first time this season, the UMD men’s hockey team failed to earn a weekend split. The Bulldogs were shut out by Wisconsin, 2-0, Friday before rebounding for a 2-2 tie against the Badgers Saturday in the final WCHA opener for each team.
UMD falls to 2-3-1 overall and 0-1-1 in the WCHA, while previously winless Wisconsin moves to 1-2-1 overall and 1-0-1 in the WCHA.
Wisconsin goalie Joel Rumpel earned a shutout Friday as the Bulldogs failed to capitalize on scoring chances and open nets in a 2-0 loss in front of 6,296 fans at Amsoil Arena.
Rumpel stopped all 29 shots he faced and junior wingers Tyler Barnes and Michael Mersch provided goals in the first and second periods, respectively, for the Badgers.
UMD freshman Matt McNeely, starting in net for the first time in front of the home crowd, stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced.
The Bulldogs had their chances all game, but could not find the scoreboard, even missing a few open net opportunities.
Wisconsin’s Morgan Zulinick took a major penalty when he slammed Dan DeLisle face-first into the glass late in the third, giving the Bulldogs a 5-minute power play. The Bulldogs attacked virtually the entire time, but still could not get one past Rumpel.
“Wisconsin came out ready to play and we were a little sluggish,” freshman Tony Cameranesi said after the game. “I think we all had a lot of nervousness coming into the game, myself included. We started off a little slow and then picked it up as the game went on.”
A strong finish wasn’t much consolation for UMD.
“We had good opportunities and couldn’t even hit the net,” said head coach Scott Sandelin. “We’ll be better tomorrow. Trust me.”
Sandelin was right. The Bulldogs put together a much more consistent performance Saturday, but let a 2-0 lead slip away and settled for a tie.
UMD’s offense was rolling on all cylinders, easily outshooting Wisconsin, 37-21, and dominating the first two periods before things turned south in the third.
Cameranesi provided the Bulldogs’ first goal of the series, knocking in a rebound in front of the net. Senior Keegan Flaherty extended the lead to 2-0 in the second, streaking down the right side and blasting one past Rumpel.
But Wisconsin wouldn’t go down easily. An early third period goal from Mark Zengerle pulled the Badgers within one. With 5:13 to play, Wisconsin struck again, this time a Mersch goal from the slot.
The game headed to overtime, and despite some great scoring chances on both sides, the teams skated to a tie.
“The two-goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey. I think everyone had that going in the back of their head,” senior Mike Seidel said following the game. “We were laying back, being hesitant. We weren’t doing what we were doing in the first two periods.”
Still, players and coaches weren’t too worried about letting the two-goal lead escape.
“We played awesome the first 40, and there’s a lot of positives to take out of tonight,” McNeely said. “We all came ready to play right off the bat tonight and that carried into the second period.”
“I like how we played tonight,” Sandelin said. “If we play like that, we’ll win a lot of games. Overall, a much better effort tonight and that’s good to see.”
McNeely, who has been in somewhat of a position battle with senior Aaron Crandall, drew positive reviews in his first home games.
“I thought he played great both nights and they certainly didn’t score very many goals,” Sandelin said. “He was good. We’ll see what happens down the road.”
The Bulldogs will have a week off before heading to Nebraska-Omaha for a Saturday/Sunday series on Nov. 10-11.
1992-93 team honored
The 1992-93 men’s hockey team was honored during the first intermission of Saturday’s game.
That year’s squad, led by the likes of eventual Hobey Baker Award winner Chris Marinucci and current UMD assistant coach Derek Plante, was the final team in program history to win a WCHA regular season title.
Not only does this year mark the 20th anniversary of that championship – it is also the final year that UMD will compete in the WCHA before moving to the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference next season.
BY TOM OLSEN firstname.lastname@example.org