Postgame: Bulldogs Unbeaten Streak Snapped In Mankato

Minnesota Duluth saw its seven game unbeaten streak snapped Tuesday via a 1-0 nonconference loss to Minnesota State-Mankato at Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.

Below are a quick thumbs up and thumbs down from Tuesday’s game, plus my three stars of the night.

Thumbs up to Hunter Shepard

Bulldogs sophomore goaltender Hunter Shepard made his 21st consecutive start Tuesday, and once again gave his team a pretty darn good chance to win.

The native of Cohasset stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced, giving up the game’s lone goal in the second period when the Mavericks were able to string a couple good passes, and a nice shot, together on a rush.

Shepard made a couple big stops on Mavericks breakaways, and withstood a flurry of shots at the end of the first period when the Mavs were on a power play.

None of this should surprise anyone who has been watching Shepard the last few months. He’s been the model of consistency in net.

Thumbs down to the lack of offense

What hasn’t been the model of consistency for the Bulldogs in 2017-18 is its offense. After averaging 4.86 goals per game over the last seven games (6-0-1), UMD got shut out Tuesday for the fifth time this season.

The Bulldogs entered Tuesday’s contest having posted five-plus goals in seven of its last eight games (6-1-1) and five-plus goals in four-straight wins.

The power play has been a huge source of offense for UMD as of late. It entered the night converting at a rate of 51.9 percent over the last six games, going 14-for-27. The Mavericks held UMD 0-for-4 on the man advantage Tuesday. The last time UMD failed to score a power play goal was in the Ledyard Bank Classic championship at Dartmouth, when UMD didn’t receive a single power play. And the last time before that was the 7-5 loss at Nebraska-Omaha on Dec. 8.

It wasn’t just the power play that struggled for UMD, though, in Mankato. It was the offense as a whole. The Bulldogs were held to a season-low 15 shots on goal. Whether it was on the power play or at even strength, UMD was not generating shots.

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what held the Bulldogs up beyond not getting pucks to the net. Credit should go to the Mavs for playing a sound defensive game, but I also can’t help but credit the scheduling. The Bulldogs seemed primed for a letdown playing Minnesota State on a Tuesday in between big NCHC series against North Dakota and St. Cloud State, and sure enough, it happened.

I expect UMD to have more of a kick Friday and Saturday at home against the Huskies when conference points are once again at stake.

Matt’s Three Stars of the Night

3. UMD sophomore goaltender Hunter Shepard: In his 21st consecutive start he finished with 23 saves that included big stops on breakaways.

2. MSU sophomore forward Marc Michaelis: Made a great pass for the primary assist on Tuesday night’s only goal.

1. MSU sophomore forward Parker Tuomie: He finished off the pass from Michaelis for the game-winning goal Tuesday.