Rivalry fades, but Bulldogs sweep Gophers

John Gilbert

UMD goaltender Hunter Shepard returned to his usual groove, stopping Gopher star Sammy Walker on a first-period breakaway in Saturday's 2-0 shutout. Photo credit: John Gilbert
UMD goaltender Hunter Shepard returned to his usual groove, stopping Gopher star Sammy Walker on a first-period breakaway in Saturday's 2-0 shutout. Photo credit: John Gilbert
The Bulldogs Justin Richards was in clean but stopped by Gopher freshman goaltender Jared Moe. Photo credit: John Gilber
The Bulldogs Justin Richards was in clean but stopped by Gopher freshman goaltender Jared Moe. Photo credit: John Gilbert

Concerns about the UMD men’s hockey team struggling to start this season were pretty much dissolved as the Bulldogs swept a home-and-home series from Minnesota, even though their non- conference games have robbed their once- ferocious rivalry of most of its color.

The Bulldogs always have played as though they like the wider Olympic ice sheet at Mariucci Arena, and as they cruised away to a 5-2 Friday victory, junior defenseman Scott Perunovich gave fans a glimpse of how a player has to play to be included in the Hobey Baker discussion. Perunovich zig-zagged out of his zone, through any neutral zone congestion, and past any defenders in the offensive zone, compiling a goal and two assists in the victory.

Saturday night, the teams drove up Interstate 35 to AMSOIL Arena, and UMD goaltender Hunter Shepard stopped all 21 shots by the more intense Gophers to record a 2-0 shutout for the Bulldogs sweep.
UMD made some impressive rushes and puck-exchanges through the first half of the game, inspired by its fourth line in the rematch. Jesse Jacques, a sophomore from Hermantown, centered the fourth unit and ignited a rush into the Gopher zone early in the first period. Jacques made a neat little pass to his right to freshman Brandon Puricellli, who quickly relayed a pass ahead to Quinn Olson, who was cutting toward the goal. Olson only had time for one quick move, before slipping the puck between the pads of goaltender Jared Moe a 6-foot-4 freshman from New Prague, who played for Holy Family before joining ‘Waterloo of the USHL.

“Jesse made a good play to Puricelli, who made a good play to me,” said Olson, who just returned to the lineup from an injury. “That made it quite a weekend for me, getting my first point Friday and my first goal Saturday.”
The teams played evenly the rest of the way, although play grew more ragged in the third period, which didn’t exactly please coach Scott Sandelin.
“We threw some pucks away with soft plays, and Shep bailed us out,” said Sandelin. “It was great for Quinn to get a goal, and for us to get different lines scoring. But give Minnesota credit; they were a much better team tonight.”
Shepard was left alone a few times, making him earn the shutout. Blake McLaughlin, a sophomore from Grand Rapids, made a slick pass to put speedy sophomore Sammy Walker in clean, but Shepard held his ground and stopped the breakaway to end the first period.
It was still 1-0 when Bob Motzko pulled goalie Roe for a sixth attacker in the final minute, but with 38 seconds remaining, Cole Koepke flipped the puck ahead into the Gopher zone and Kobe Roth darted around a defenseman to get it on the left side, then Roth passed across the slot to Jackson Cates, who rifled a shot into the empty net.

“Minnesota’s a good team,” said Shepard, afterward. “I hope we can build on the sweep.”
The Gophers went home also gaining some hope. “We were a lot better tonight,” said Motzko. We didn’t compete last night. We had 10 freshmen in the lineup and we learned how hard it is to score against a good team. And they play a hard style to score on when they get ahead.”
No question the raggedness of the second game may have made the game less than scintillating, but uMD needed the sweep after being swept at Wisconsin. The Bulldogs have this weekend off, while Minnesota goes home to face Notre Dame, in a Big Ten game that is part of the revised college landscape as a new rivalry for the Gophers.

UMD WOMEN HOME

The UMD women’s team won the Icebreaker tournament last weekend and rose to the No. 10 rank in the nation after defeating Mercyhurst and Colgate to claim the title. The Bulldogs, who had just been swept at Bemidji State, needed to win and the tournament put them up against three teams — Mercyhurst, Colgate and Connecticut — against whom UMD stands 14-1-2.

Sophomore Gabbie Hughes, who has a habit of scoring first goals for the Bulldogs, did it again both nights, against Mercyhurst and Colgate, after coming back into the lineup from a minor injury. Hughes has 4 goals, 5 assists and 9 points, identical to Sydney Brodt’s totals as the two lead the team.
The Bulldogs return to AMSOIL Arena this weekend to face St. Cloud State at 7 and 4 Friday and Saturday. The Huskies are winless in the early going in the WCHA.
The big series this weekend has No. 1 Wisconsin plating at No. 2 Minnesota Saturday and Sunday.

Claire Smith, a UWS sophomore from Hayward, battled St. Scholastica freshman Alexa Ickert for possession in the scoreless first half, before the Saints won 4-0 to clinch the UMAC title. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Claire Smith, a UWS sophomore from Hayward, battled St. Scholastica freshman Alexa Ickert for possession in the scoreless first half, before the Saints won 4-0 to clinch the UMAC title. Photo credit: John Gilbert

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St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior have great rivalries in virtually every sport, but soccer has not been among them. The Saints had won every game the two rivals had ever played until the Yellowjackets sprung a 1-0 surprise in last year’s UMAC playoff final.
They met in the regular-season finale Tuesday afternoon at St. Scholastica and it looked for the first half as though it might be a repeat of the scoreless battle that went to overtime last year. But the Saints broke through, scoring four times to whip UWS and secure the regular-season championship and home field advantage for the UMAC playoffs.