The UMD men’s hockey team kicked off its regular season with a pair of hard-fought games against the Michigan Tech Huskies over the weekend. It was the 224th and 225th matchups between the teams all time and the beginning of a new era in the rivalry, with the Bulldogs now in the NCHC after leaving the WCHA. Game one Friday saw sophomore goaltender Matt McNeely play solidly between the pipes early, as UMD struggled to maintain offensive pressure. Both teams had a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity in the first but were unable to convert and ended the period in a scoreless tie.
Sophomore Tony Cameranesi blasted a shot past Michigan Tech goalie Pheonix Copley to break the stalemate less than five minutes into the second period off a pass from sophomore Austin Farley. UMD then used that momentum to pepper the Husky goaltender for the remainder of the game, outshooting Michigan Tech 41-16 in all.
The Huskies were kept scoreless until the third period, but junior Justin Crandall answered with a goal to renew the UMD lead to 2-1 with 2:46 to play.
“It was a pretty ugly goal,” Crandall said. “We had a lot of good chances during the night. Late in the game it’s never a bad idea to throw it on net. I got it in the corner and got lucky.”
As time wound down, a brawl broke out along the boards, resulting in multiple penalties on Bulldog junior Derik Johnson and a game misconduct for Michigan Tech captain Blake Pietila, who was kept out of action Saturday.
Game two was another low-scoring, physical bout that ultimately ended in a 1-1 tie.
The Bulldogs drew first blood on a first-period power play when captain Joe Basaraba sneaked the puck through the five hole on Husky goaltender Jamie Phillips. It was Basaraba’s 21st career goal and his sixth against Michigan Tech in 14 meetings.
UMD’s penalty kill was stellar again Saturday night, leaving the Huskies scoreless on 11 attempts, including two 5-on-3 chances.
“Our penalty kill worked really well tonight,” freshman forward Kyle Osterberg said. “I think we shut them down and that was a big key in the way we played. From now on we just need to work better to get momentum off that.”
Michigan Tech’s Mike Neville tied the game up off a scrum in the third period, sending the game into overtime. A scoreless overtime put the game into the record book as a tie, but the Bulldogs dropped the shootout after Caleb Herbert and Basaraba were turned away.
“It was one of those ugly games where we needed to find a way to win,” head coach Scott Sandelin said. “We didn’t lose, but when you give up the goal late, it kind of feels like that. I hope our guys felt that way because we need to play better, period.”
The Bulldogs (1-0-1, 0-0-0 NCHC) open NCHC competition this weekend against Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
BY NICOLE BRODZIK firstname.lastname@example.org