Postgame: Bulldogs Success Against North Dakota Continues Thanks To Special Teams

Minnesota Duluth extended its unbeaten streak to six games (5-0-1) and its winning streak against North Dakota to seven games via a 5-3 victory on Friday in NCHC play at Amsoil Arena.

The winning streak against the Fighting Hawks dates back to the 2016 NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals. The Hawks actually swept UMD during the regular season that year.

UMD and North Dakota will meet one more time during the 2017-18 regular season, that’s Saturday at 7:07 p.m. at Amsoil Arena.

Below are a couple thumbs up for the Bulldogs, plus my three stars of the night.

Thumbs up to the Bulldogs power play

Both of the Bulldogs special teams units on Friday were stellar in the win over the Hawks, but it was the power play head coach Scott Sandelin was proclaiming the hero.

UMD officially finished the night 3-for-5 on the man advantage, but in reality it was a 4-for-5 night with junior center Peter Krieger scoring just seconds after a UMD power play expired.

The other power play goals came from Joey Anderson, Parker Mackay and Riley Tufte.

The PP unit of Krieger, Joey Anderson, Tufte, Mackay and Scott Perunovich scored three of the four power play goals Friday. The last PP goal went into an empty net, with Tufte, Perunovich, Karson Kuhlman, Jarod Thomas and Mikey Anderson defending a last minute comeback attempt by the Hawks.

A week ago at Colorado College, it was the PP unit of Mikey Anderson, Jarod Hilderman, Thomas, Kuhlman and Kobe Roth/Avery Peterson shining on advantages, scoring two of the team’s four PP goals against the Tigers.

The Bulldogs are now 10-for-18 (55.6 percent) on man advantages over the last five games. They’ve become a deadly team on the power play, one opponents need to really think twice about taking a penalty against.

“It started in Dartmouth where we just simplified it,” Sandelin said of the power play. “Guys scored and got some confidence. When you start getting confidence, you start making better plays.”

Thumbs up to the Bulldogs penalty kill

Sandelin and I didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye after the game on this one. While he was a big fan of the power play, I was a big fan of the Bulldogs penalty kill, which held North Dakota to just one power play goal on eight chances.

I got why Sandelin — at least initially — was hesitant to praise the penalty killers and call them the heroes. The truth is no team has any business being out there killing eight times, with four kills coming in the third period. That’s an awful lot of penalties to have to kill off against a really good North Dakota team.

But the Bulldogs’ PK held down the fort and closed out the win, specifically sophomore goaltender Hunter Shepard. Of the 33 saves he made, 12 were on the penalty kill and six of those 12 were during four third period kills.

“It’s what you need to do to win,” Mackay said of the four kills in the third period. “I think everybody knows that and when the bench is up, it helps a lot.”

Matt’s Three Stars of the Night

3. UMD sophomore wing Joey Anderson: He finished with a goal and an assist and was a key element to both special teams units.

2. UMD junior wing Parker Mackay: Like Anderson, he’s out there on the power play and penalty kill. Tonight he put up a goal and two assists as well.

1. UMD sophomore goaltender Hunter Shepard: North Dakota came hard in the third, and Shep was there to stop 15 of the 17 shots, including the six he saw on UND power plays.