Postgame: In Battle Of Top-flight First-line Trios, Bulldogs Win Round 1 Against Tigers

On an explosive offensive night in the NCHC (46 total goals !!!), Minnesota Duluth edged Colorado College 6-5 in league play at World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo.

UMD went 3-for-6 on the power play, converting on three of its first four chances. That wound up sparking the Bulldogs offense during 5-on-5 play, allowing UMD to jump out to a 6-4 lead after two periods.

Colorado College went 2-for-5 on the power play and led this game on three occasions at 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3, before giving up three-straight UMD goals in the second.

Below are a pair of thumbs up from tonight’s game, plus my three stars of the night.

Thumbs up to Colorado College’s top line

Those three are the real deal, let me tell you. So much so, I can’t give UMD a thumbs down for its inability to slow them down. CC’s top line was that good.

Now in his fourth season, Tigers coach Mike Haviland has a Grade A first line that can compete with anyone in the NCHC in junior wing Trey Bradley, junior center Mason Bergh and sophomore wing Nick Halloran.

Halloran had two goals and an assist. Bradley and Bergh each had two assists. The three now have a total of 76 points on the season, including 28 goals.

These three were especially dangerous on the rush tonight against the Bulldogs. Every time they hit the ice, they were a force to be reckoned with. UMD will need to find a way to slow those three down tomorrow if it wants to leave Colorado Springs with more points.

“They are a very good team off the rush. You saw that on their first two goals,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “They came down on two rushes and our gaps weren’t good. Halloran can shoot the puck. He’s a guy that can wire the puck. That line has 70 (plus) points for a reason, because they all play well together. They complement each other very well. There is a little bit of everything on that line. That’s why they are successful. We knew that coming in.”

Thumbs up to UMD’s top line

While the Tigers’ top line was good, especially early on in the game, it struggled to produce offense all night long.

That wasn’t the case with the Bulldogs top line of sophomore wings Riley Tufte and Joey Anderson and junior center Peter Krieger. They were dominant for all of the first and second period (both teams kinda slowed down in the third, minus CC’s late scramble to try and tie).

Krieger and Tufte finished with two goals and two assists each. Anderson had an assist. The three were a combined plus-7 tonight.

UMD lacked a real dangerous top-line trio in the first half. Injuries were mostly to blame before Christmas. At the Ledyard Bank Classic at Dartmouth, the World Juniors robbed the team of some key pieces.

Now that almost everyone is back (no Nick Swaney this weekend, he is injured), the Bulldogs should be able to get some solid line combinations going and build some chemistry.

Tufte, Krieger and Anderson sure had it Friday and if it keeps up, UMD will be a much, much better team in the second half.

“They are unbelievable players,” Krieger said of Tufte and Anderson. “Their repertoire, just who they are, it makes it so easy to play with them.”

Matt’s Three Stars

3. UMD freshman defenseman Scott Perunovich: Back from the World Juniors, Perunovich had three assists Friday, including key helpers on the power play goal by Tufte and Krieger’s goal that decided the game.

2. UMD junior center Peter Krieger: Two goals and two assists, including the game-deciding goal. Krieger also gave UMD a 1-0 lead 31 seconds in.

1. UMD sophomore wing Riley Tufte: Two goals and two assists as well, with his goals back-to-back in the second period tying the game and giving UMD the lead for good.