BY JIMMY GILLIGAN | Sports Editor | The Statesman The No. 7 Bulldog men's hockey team (2-1) leaned on two first period goals to sweep the No. 15 Gophers (0-3) in a record-breaking night at Amsoil Arena.
The win gives UMD a weekend sweep of the U of M, and a six-game winning streak—the longest such streak in the history of their long-standing rivalry of 229 games.
UMD came out firing in the first, outshooting and outworking the Gophers—a trend that would continue for much of the game.
Just five minutes into the contest, Dominic Toninato gave the Bulldogs a lead they would not lose after walking in and picking the short-side top corner on U of M freshman goaltender Eric Schierhorn.
Despite the early lead, the Bulldogs kept on the pressure throughout the first period. Sustained time in the offensive zone led to Karson Kuhlman’s first goal of the season on a redirected slap shot from Carson Soucy.
The attendance record of 7,424 set in last year's Saturday night match against the Gophers was narrowly broken in tonight's game, with a reported attendance of 7,569.
“We knew it was going to be an electric crowd tonight, and that’s what we like to play in front of. It was good to get the sweep,” sophomore center Jared Thomas said.
Although the Gophers were able to tally 21 shots after being held to just two in the first period, the Bulldogs dominated offensively throughout much of the game.
“We bent a little bit, but we didn’t break,” head coach Scott Sandelin said. “We didn’t give up a ton of opportunities, and when we did our goaltending was good.”
After 17 shots on target in the first, UMD ended the night with 33 total shots on goal.
“We were just working hard, we had a good forecheck tonight,” Thomas said.
Both teams were unable to convert on the power play tonight. The Gophers were 0 for 11 with the man advantage and have yet to score on the power play in their first three games.
When the Gophers were able to get some chances later in the game, sophomore goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo handled all of them without being overworked. His 21-save shutout was the second of his collegiate career. Both have come against the Gophers.
He attributed his success to the intensity of the UMD-UMN matchup.
“It’s just the hype of the rivalry. Everybody’s been saying this is the big weekend that everyone’s been waiting for, seeing that kind of crowd at both arenas is really special to be a part of,” Kaskisuo said.
Kaskisuo has a .949 save percentage and a 1.34 goals against average in three games this season.
“I think he’s been our best player for three games, in my opinion,” Sandelin said of Kaskisuo.
The Bulldogs take the momentum from the rivalry sweep into a road series against Notre Dame next weekend. Despite a milestone victory, Jared Thomas and the Bulldogs are keen on not getting ahead of themselves.
“Hopefully we can build on it, it was only our third game of the year, so we still got a long year,” Thomas said.
“It’s a good start for us, and it’s just always fun beating those guys.”