BY JIMMY GILLIGAN | The Statesman The University of Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey team punched its ticket to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff with a convincing 3-1 win over Miami University Saturday night.
The Bulldogs dominated the special teams play Saturday night to sweep Miami in the opening round of the NCHC playoffs. In total, UMD scored three power play goals and two shorthanded goals in the two-game sweep of Miami.
This weekend’s sweep marked UMD’s first two playoff wins in the NCHC, which earned the first Frozen Faceoff berth in program history.
“It feels awesome,” head coach Scott Sandelin said. “I’m really happy for our guys. Tonight reminded me of last Saturday against them where there wasn’t a lot of room or a lot of shots, but our special teams came through big time.”
Senior captain Andy Welinski scored a power play goal for the second consecutive night, and forwards Kyle Osterberg and Tony Cameranesi each recorded a shorthanded breakaway goal in the win.
“It’s unbelievable,” Welinski said of scoring in his final two home games. “Both nights were obviously huge team wins—it’s a credit to everyone else. I say that a lot, but guys were getting in front of the goalie’s eyes so I give the credit a lot to them.”
Osterberg gave the Bulldogs a lead 91 seconds into the game when he found the five hole of MU’s Jay Williams. It held up as the game-winning goal until 17:12 of the third period, when Miami capitalized on a 2-on-1 rush.
“When you’re working hard and doing the little things right on the penalty kill, you’ll get rewarded for it and I think that’s what happened tonight,” Osterberg said.
Cameranesi’s shorthanded goal, which came halfway through the second period, put UMD up 3-0 and was something of a dagger for the Bulldogs.
“That was one of those goals that can be very deflating for a team,” Sandelin said of Cameranesi’s strike.
UMD will roll into Minneapolis next weekend with perhaps the most positive momentum they’ve had all season. Saturday night’s win was the Bulldogs’ sixth straight win and fourth straight over Miami in as many games. Over that span the Bulldogs have outscored the opposition 21 to 8.
“It was one of our goals this year,” Cameranesi said of making the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.
“It was a new league when we came into it sophomore year, so it’s going to be a new experience. And for a lot of us being from the cities, you want to play in front of your parents and all that so we’re excited.”