Postgame: Denver Finishes Off Season Sweep Of Bulldogs

Denver rallied from a pair of one goal deficits to finish off its regular season sweep of Minnesota Duluth, winning 4-3 on Saturday at Magness Arena in Denver.

The Bulldogs led 2-1 after the first period and 3-2 in the second after sophomore wing Riley Tufte posted his team-leading 13th goal of the season. Denver’s Jarid Lukosevicius tied the game with 2:20 remaining in the second, however, and Dylan Gambrell scored the game winner midway through the third.

Below are my two thumbs up for UMD from Saturday’s loss, plus my three stars of the night.

Thumbs up to the Bulldogs response to Friday’s debacle

Yes, another loss to Denver is disappointing for UMD, especially after it led twice in the game. However, you have to like the turnaround the Bulldogs pulled from Friday to Saturday.

Friday’s game was an absolute disaster for UMD, which didn’t show up to Magness Arena until the third period when it fell behind 1-0. The low point was the second period when the Bulldogs were held to six shot attempts and one shot on goal.

“It was terrible,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said of the second period on Friday.

Saturday really was a completely different story for the Bulldogs, who seemed to find their offensive stride once again after being held to single digit shots on goal in 15 of their previous 18 periods.

The Bulldogs poured it on Saturday against UMD. They got bodies to the net, pucks to the net and beat one of the best goalies in the NCAA, Tanner Jaillet with some really nice goals — snipes by Riley Tufte and Scott Perunovich, a deflection by Kobe Roth.

UMD should be holding its head high after Saturday’s loss. It should give the Bulldogs confidence later down the road if they should run into the Pioneers, like in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff or NCAA tournament.

“You need to play every shift, especially in this league. You have to play every shift and you have to play hard. You’re going to win some of those battles and you’re going to lose some of those battles, but you have to show up and be in them,” Sandelin said Saturday. “You have to be willing to contest things and play hard hockey. You can’t play easy hockey now. This league is not easy. You have to have the willingness and commitment to do that. Tonight I thought we had a lot more guys on board from start to finish than we did last night.”

Thumbs up to Riley Tufte

No, this isn’t for the goal he scored Saturday to expand his team-high to 13. I want to give Tufte a big thumbs up for what he did after Saturday’s tough loss.

As most people know, Tufte plays with Type 1 diabetes. The 2016 Minnesota Mr. Hockey and first-round draft pick of the Dallas Stars was diagnosed with it at the age of 11 and thanks to some great advances in technology, he’s able to still play hockey at a very, very high level.

Well after Saturday’s game not too far from the Bulldogs locker room, Tufte met with a young hockey player and fan from the Denver area who also has diabetes. The mother of the child reached out to Tufte, who was happy to meet with the kid and his family. Tufte spent a good half hour after the game socializing with the young man and his family. Had he hung around any longer, he would have missed the team bus back to the hotel.

It was cool to see Tufte do that after a tough night for him and the Bulldogs. I think he not only gained himself a big new fan, but a fan of the Bulldogs Saturday.

Matt’s Three Stars of the Night

3. UMD sophomore goaltender Hunter Shepard: He gave up four goals, but stopped 40. He made some huge saves Saturday against a Denver team that is once again turning it on in the second half.

2. DU senior goaltender Tanner Jaillet: The Bulldogs really tested Jaillet tonight, and while they exposed him a few times, he was solid as ever making 32 saves.

1. DU junior center Dylan Gambrell: The San Jose Sharks draft pick had a goal and an assist Saturday, including the game-winning goal for the Pioneers.