UMD ran its unbeaten streak to nine with a 5-2 win over Minnesota State Friday at Amsoil Arena. It was a game that featured a little bit of everything, including an absolutely unstoppable second line for UMD.
Two weeks ago, coach Scott Sandelin put Travis Oleksuk at center after a few games as a left wing on Jack Connolly's top line. Sandelin reunited Oleksuk with his right wing from virtually all of last season, J.T. Brown, and he put freshman Caleb Herbert at left wing on that line.
While Jack Connolly has enjoyed a bit of a surge as of late with Mike Seidel and Joe Basaraba, that second line has been forgotten about to an extent.
Oleksuk's line struck four times Friday night, with Herbert scoring twice, and Brown and Oleksuk each tallying once.
Simply put, it was a matchup nightmare for Minnesota State, one that Troy Jutting couldn't escape until the clock had run out to end the game. For much of the night, his experienced line of Eli Zuck, Adam Mueller, and Michael Dorr was matched up against Oleksuk's line, and they just couldn't do very much. Mueller scored a late goal to make it a 5-2 game, but the three were a garish minus-nine combined. They would have been minus-12 if Mueller hadn't picked up that relatively meaningless goal.
Herbert scored the game's first goal off a really nice snipe from the left circle, a low shot to beat MSU goalie Austin Lee. Brown made it 2-0 in the second period with a great move around Lee and a backhanded shot into an empty net. Herbert scored off a defenseman late in the second period to make it 3-0. Oleksuk capped UMD's side of the scoring in the third.
The three combined for four goals, seven points, and a plus-11 for the game.
It was a tremdendous effort for UMD, one that looked perilous in the first period, when MSU outshot the home team 21-9. Taking away power play chances, the Mavericks outshot UMD 12-1 even strength. UMD made some adjustments and played much better defensively the rest of the game, outshooting MSU 25-15 in the last 40 minutes.
Efforts like that from Oleksuk's line are always great for UMD, because it creates more opportunities down the line for Connolly's line. In the case of Friday, it created a matchup nightmare for Minnesota State, and we'll see if Jutting can find a counter to it in Saturday's game.
UMD is one point back of the Gophers in the WCHA after Minnesota fell 4-3 to St. Cloud State Friday night. Kent Patterson gave up four goals on 13 shots over the first two periods, but was out-dueled by Ryan Faragher, who stopped 40 Minnesota shots.
Denver bested Nebraska-Omaha 7-3, scoring all their goals over the first two periods. Also in the Mountain time zone, Colorado College got by Wisconsin 4-2 in Colorado Springs.
In Anchorage, Alaska-Anchorage got its first WCHA win, beating Michigan Tech 3-1. The Huskies have played three road games this season and lost them all, while the Seawolves won for the first time since going 3-0-1 at tournaments in Anchorage and Fairbanks to start the season.
Congratulations to UMD coach Scott Sandelin, who picked up his 200th career win Friday night. It's not all about him, and he'd be the first to tell you that. But it's a significant accomplishment, and well worth mentioning.
Also, UMD has signed five players to letters of intent, all of whom are playing in the USHL. Forwards Tony Camaranesi, Cal Dekowski, and Austyn Young have signed, along with defensemen Willie Corrin and Andy Welinski.
All five players hail from Minnesota, with the forwards all from the Twin Cities area, Corrin from International Falls, and Welinski from Duluth.