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NCAAM: Bullet Points (Jan. 2)

By Kyle McLaughlin , 01/02/24, 5:00PM CST


Bemidji State tangled with St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth competes in Milwaukee, and St. Thomas travels to Vermont.

Bemidji State (8-12-0) vs. No. 14 St. Cloud State (10-5-2)

Bemidji State and St. Cloud State faced off in a home-and-home series to close out the year, a match-up that has heavily favored the Huskies in recent history, with St. Cloud going 7-1-2 over the previous 10 bouts. 

Game one of the series was held on 12/29 in Bemidji, and it only took 56 seconds for Veeti Miettinen to light the lamp and put the Huskies ahead 1-0. Less than four minutes later, Cooper Wylie tallied his first goal of the season to double St. Cloud’s lead, with Ryan Rosborough extending it to 3-0 later in the first. The Beavers pulled it back to 3-1 via a shorthanded Jere Vaisanen goal 5:18 into the second, but St. Cloud capitalized on their next power play opportunity to regain a three-goal lead. In the third, Jack Peart quickly finished on a 2-on-1 chance to make it 5-1 before Dylan Anhorn promptly added a sixth goal, with St. Cloud leaving Bemidji with a 6-1 win. 

In the New Year’s Eve rematch, St. Cloud again jumped out to an early lead, scoring two goals in the first 6:25 game. Logan Acheson responded for the Beavers shortly after St. Cloud’s second goal, leading to a 2-1 score at the first intermission. In the second, St. Cloud outshot Bemidji 20-11, but both goaltenders held firm, and the period went scoreless. Ethan AuCoin kicked off the scoring for St. Cloud to start the third, and the Huskies did not look back, adding three goals in the second half of the period to win 6-1 and sweep the Beavers. Adam Ingram tallied the sixth goal of the game to finish the weekend series with four points. 

Bemidji State will now look to rebound on the road against Ferris State (5-13-1) this weekend on 1/5 and 1/6. St. Cloud State will have another off weekend before traveling to Colorado to face the No. 5 ranked Denver Pioneers (12-5-1) on 1/12 and 1/13. 

Jack Peart, St. Cloud State

Minnesota Duluth (6-9-4) – Kwik Trip Holiday Face-off

Held at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, WI, the Bulldogs were one of four participants in the Kwik Trip Holiday Face-off, with UMD playing Northeastern (6-9-1) in game one on 12/28. Kicking off the tournament nicely, UMD jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two tipped-in goals from Ben Steeves and Blake Biondi. Northeastern stormed back in the second and tied it up at 2-2 before Owen Gallatin notched his fourth goal of the season to retake the lead for the Bulldogs. With 6:10 to go in the second, Northeastern retied the game via a goal from Gunnarwolfe Fontaine, heading into the final frame tied 3-3.

Despite outshooting Northeastern 11-2 in the third, neither team scored. The game headed to overtime, where the Huskies won, with Jack Williams beating goaltender Zack Stejskal to claim his hat trick and place Northeastern in the championship game. 

UMD suited up against the other losing squad in the tournament, the Air Force Academy (8-11-1), and allowed the Falcons to score first with 6:02 remaining in the opening period. However, Carter Loney responded for the Bulldogs only 15 seconds later to head into the first intermission tied 1-1. The second period almost went scoreless before Ben Steeves capitalized on a power play with only five seconds remaining, tallying his thirteenth goal of the season. In the third, Luke Johnson extended the lead to 3-1 by scoring his first goal of the season before Ben Steeves added a late empty netter to win 4-1. 

Ending 2023 with a win, UMD will next play St. Thomas in an exhibition game on 1/6 before returning to conference play against Colorado College at home on 1/12 and 1/13. 

Ben Steeves, Minnesota Duluth

St. Thomas (9-10-1) vs. Vermont (9-7-1)

The Tommies traveled to Burlington, Vermont for their final series of 2023 and, unfortunately, came up short in both games against the Catamounts.

Playing Vermont for the first time in program history on 12/29, a one-goal deficit after one was doubled early in the second, with Ryan O’Neill getting the Tommies on the board with 2:31 to go in the period. Unfortunately, Vermont immediately struck back to regain their two-goal lead heading into the third. All 10 St. Thomas shots were turned aside in the third period, and the Catamounts added two late-period goals to win game one of the series 5-1. 

The rematch on 12/30 did not start as planned for St. Thomas, as the Catamounts’ Mateo Dixon scored only 26 seconds into the game. Over the next seven minutes, Vermont added two more goals, heading into the first intermission with a sizeable 3-0 lead over St. Thomas. That lead was further extended to 4-0 only 2:50 into the second, and Vermont’s goaltender Gabe Carriere remained strong in net, saving all 20 shots faced through two periods. With 14:46 remaining in the third, Luc Laylin scored to end the shutout; however, there would be no late comeback, and the game ended 4-1, with Carriere making 30 saves in net to help clinch the series sweep. 

St. Thomas will look to start the new year fresh against Minnesota Duluth in an exhibition game on 1/6. The following weekend, St. Thomas will hope to regain the top spot of the CCHA standings when the Tommies battle Michigan Tech at home on Thursday, 1/11, and Saturday, 1/13. 

Ryan O'Neill, St. Thomas

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