No. 11 Minnesota Duluth (3-2-2)
To begin, our thoughts continue to be with the family, friends, and entire Minnesota Duluth and Hibbing communities after the tragic passing of Adam Johnson over the weekend.
The Bulldogs made the long journey to Ithaca, New York, to take on Cornell University in a two-game series. Game one started poorly for the Bulldogs, taking three penalties in the first period and allowing back-to-back Big Red goals only 14 seconds apart. Still down 2-0 in the second, Cornell went on their second powerplay of the period and capitalized to bring their lead to three. With 4:49 remaining in the period, the Bulldogs tallied their own powerplay goal, with Ben Steeves scoring to keep his one-goal-per-game streak alive. The two-goal deficit was too much for the Bulldogs to overcome in the third, with Cornell adding a late fourth goal to win Friday's game 4-1 and end Minnesota Duluth's unbeaten streak.
Both teams came out flat in the rematch on Saturday, with four shots recorded on net and neither team scoring in period one. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, period two went completely in Cornell's favor as the Big Red scored three straight goals, and goaltender Ian Shane turned away all nine Minnesota Duluth shots. In the third, Minnesota Duluth was again held scoreless, with Ian Shane making seven saves for a 17-save shutout, clinching the series sweep for the Big Red.
The Bulldogs will look to regroup quickly and have a stronger series this weekend against Minnesota, playing at Mariucci Arena on Friday, 11/3, before returning home to Amsoil Arena for Saturday's game.
Gavin Enright posted a 29-save shutout in game two of Bemidi State's sweep of St. Thomas.
Bemidji State (3-3-0) vs. St. Thomas (2-5-1)
The Beavers and Tommies met this weekend in Bemidji, with both teams hoping to start conference play on the right foot. Their four meetings last season were all close affairs, with Bemidji going 2-1-1.
Bemidji's Jackson Jutting started the scoring in game one before Cooper Gay responded only 48 seconds later, heading into the first intermission tied at 1-1. In the second, the Beavers struck twice, first from Jake McLean. Then, the team's top scorer, Lleyton Roed, added a powerplay goal. An injury forced a goaltender change for the Beavers for the final period, with Gavin Enright filling in and saving 10-of-11 shots on net, helping Bemidji hold on for the 3-2 win.
Saturday's rematch saw Gavin Enright back in net for Bemidji and the Tommies turning to Jake Sibell between the pipes, with both saving all shots faced in the first period. Staying hot by scoring in his third consecutive game, Lleyton Roed added his fifth goal of the season to put the Beavers ahead 1-0 in the second. That one-goal advantage held until the final minute of regulation when Roed added an empty net goal, scoring his sixth goal in six games, with Bemidji clinching a 2-0 victory. Enright earned his first career shutout in the win, making 29 saves and helping his team earn all six available points in the conference standings.
Bemidji will now travel to Michigan for more conference play against Lake Superior State (3-3-0), while the Tommies will return home to face the Northern Michigan Wildcats (1-4-1).
No. 1 Minnesota (3-3-0)
The Gophers returned home this week to play in their second straight border battle, welcoming the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers (7-1-0) to campus. The recent history of this rivalry has been dominated by the Gophers, with Minnesota winning five of the last six matchups with a cumulative goal tally of 31-10.
With a new head coach at the helm for Wisconsin, the Badgers looked to reverse this recent misfortune in game one of the series on Thursday, 10/26. Shift one of the opener saw the Gophers score only 15 seconds in. However, a penalty less than a minute later put the Badgers on an early powerplay, and Wisconsin capitalized, tying it at one. The Badgers led 2-1 midway through the second period when Charlie Strobel scored to make it 2-2, recording his first collegiate goal against his father's alma mater. The waning minutes of period two saw the Badgers tally back-to-back goals to head into the second intermission ahead 4-2, with period three seeing no pushback from the home team in a 5-2 loss. For Wisconsin, Minnesota natives Cruz Lucius and Ben Dexheimer had big games, with Lucius scoring two goals and Dexheimer recording three assists.
The rematch Friday night saw the Badgers jump out to an early 1-0 lead before Aaron Huglen responded 2:57 into the second period, scoring on a superb solo effort from the slot. About 10 minutes later, Rosemount's William Whitelaw reclaimed the lead for Wisconsin, heading into period three ahead 2-1. Jimmy Clark scored an early third-period goal to retie the game, but Simon Tassy tallied his second goal of the contest with 2:31 remaining in regulation, and the Badgers held on to win 3-2.
The Gophers will look to put this series sweep behind them and hope for a better outcome this weekend against Minnesota Duluth (3-2-2), facing off in a home-and-home series on 11/3 and 11/4.
Wisconsin's Mathieu De St. Phalle celebrates a goal in the Badgers' sweep of Minnesota over the weekend.
Minnesota State (2-3-1)
The Mavericks were on the road this weekend for their toughest test of the season so far, facing off against the No. 4 ranked North Dakota Fighting Hawks (3-1-0).
Let's just say that game one didn't start the way the Mavericks drew it up, as North Dakota scored only 2:54 into the game en route to a four-goal first period. The Fighting Hawks would add to that lead midway through the second period to make it 5-0 before the Mavericks answered, with Sam Morton and Luc Wilson tallying goals late in the period to bring it to 5-2. The Mavericks could not mount a comeback in the third, placing only two shots on net all period, with North Dakota's Jackson Blake adding his second goal of the game, leading to a 6-2 final.
North Dakota again started the scoring in the second game of the series, making it 1-0 on a powerplay goal 6:14 into the game, but this time, the Mavericks responded, tying it at 1-1 just over two minutes later. With under a minute to go in the first, Minnesota State forced a turnover in the offensive zone, and Sam Morton buried the puck in the slot for the Mavericks' first lead of the weekend. Both teams were held scoreless in the second period, and even with Minnesota State goaltender Alex Tracy making 16 saves in the third, North Dakota found a way past him to tie the game up at two. The game went to overtime, and in the 3-on-3 extra session, neither team could find the game-winner, with Alex Tracy making eight saves to collect a 2-2 tie.
The Mavericks will look to get some rest during their bye week this weekend before heading to Michigan to battle Ferris State (2-3-1) on 11/10 and 11/11.
St. Cloud State (2-4-0)
Dropping out of the top 20 this week during their first bye weekend of the season, St. Cloud will begin NCHC play this coming weekend when the Huskies host the Miami (OH) RedHawks (4-1-1) on 11/3 and 11/4. After three series, the Huskies' leading scorer is Veeti Miettinen with seven points (3G, 4A), followed by Adam Ingram (2G, 3A) and Dylan Anhorn (1G, 4A), who both have five.
Dominic Basse and the St. Cloud State Huskies will host Miami (OH) in early November.