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NCAAM: Bullet Points (March 21)

By Kyle McLaughlin , 03/21/24, 1:00PM CDT


Catch up on how Minnesota's Division I men's hockey programs fared last weekend.

No. 20 Bemidji State (20-15-2) vs. Lake Superior State (17-20-1)

Hosting the No. 7 seed Lakers in the semifinal round of the Mason Cup, Bemidji State’s Eric Pohlkamp continued his stellar freshman campaign and opened the scoring only 1:48 into the game, with Pohlkamp earning an all-CCHA First Team selection last week. Leading 1-0 to start the second, Jake McLean doubled the lead 7:32 into the period before Kirklan Irey made it 3-0 less than a minute later in front of a packed Sanford Center.

With 7:23 remaining in the period, the Lakers responded via a Branden Piku goal, with Bemidji State leading 3-1 and outshooting the Lakers 27-8 through two. Mattias Sholl saved all six shots on net in the third, and the Beavers added an empty net goal en route to a 4-1 victory. 

Advancing to their second Mason Cup Championship in the past three seasons, Bemidji State will host Michigan Tech on Friday, 3/22, with an enormous automatic NCAA Tournament bid at stake. 

Matthias Sholl, Bemidji State

No. 6 Minnesota (22-10-5) vs. No. 11 Michigan (21-13-3)

Hosting the fourth-seeded Wolverines in the Big Ten semifinals, Minnesota fell behind early, with a sizeable Justen Close rebound leading to a Kienan Draper goal 3:12 into period one.

An uneventful two periods followed, and with under two minutes to go in the second, Marshall Warren sprung Gavin Brindley with a stretch pass for a mini breakaway, leading to a goal and a 2-0 Michigan lead through two. Continuing their flat play through most of period three, the Gophers finally gave the sold-out Mariucci crowd something to cheer about when Jimmy Snuggerud scored to make it 2-1 with 1:29 remaining in regulation, but it would be too little too late, and Michigan held on to win.

The playoff loss marks the third straight season in which the Wolverines beat the Gophers in Minnesota in the conference tournament. Currently sitting at No. 8 in the Pairwise, Minnesota will discover its first-round NCAA Tournament opponent when the bracket is released this Sunday, 3/24. 

Jimmy Snuggerud, Minnesota

Minnesota Duluth (12-20-5) at No. 3 Denver (26-9-3)

In a best-of-three series in the quarterfinal round, the No. 7-seed Bulldogs faced the No. 2 Pioneers in Denver, CO. In game one, the Pioneers’ McKade Webster started the scoring to lead 1-0 after one. In period two, the Bulldogs mustered only one shot on net, and Denver’s Jack Devine added back-to-back goals to make it 3-0 after two. UMD battled back in the third period but were unable to create any scoring offense and lost 4-0, with Denver goaltender Matt Davis making 17 saves in the shutout.

In game two of the series, the first period went goalless, with neither team capitalizing on their man-advantage opportunities and UMD leading 13-10 in shots. The Pioneers dominated the middle frame for the second night in a row, scoring three goals from Aidan Thompson, Rieger Lorenz, and Sean Behrens to put the Bulldogs in a 3-0-hole heading into the third. Exactly seven minutes into the third, the Bulldogs struck for the first time all weekend off a goal from Luke Loheit, his tenth goal and twentieth point this season. Then, with their goaltender pulled and 2:04 left on the clock, Kyle Bettens cleaned up a rebound to bring it to 3-2 and give UMD a chance to complete the comeback and extend their season.

Unfortunately for Bulldog fans, Denver would go on to add two empty net goals to win 5-2 and end the Bulldogs’ season, with UMD bowing out in the quarterfinal round for the second year in a row. 

In what was a season to forget, UMD ended the season with a 12-20-5 record, going 3-13-2 on the road. Sophomore forward Ben Steeves ended the season as UMD’s leading scorer with 24 goals and 10 assists, including 13 power-play goals, with Owen Gallatin second on the team with seven goals and 23 assists. Senior Zach Stejskal started the most games in net this season and posted an 8-9-3 record in those starts with a 3.00 GAA and .898 SV%. 

Luke Loheit, Minnesota Duluth

Minnesota State (18-15-4) at Michigan Tech (18-14-6)

With their season on the line, Minnesota State traveled to Michigan Tech for their semifinal matchup and struck first off a goal from Lucas Sowder, with Alex Tracy making 13 saves in the first period to lead 1-0 after one. Precisely three minutes into the second, the Huskies tied it at 1-1 on a controversial skate deflection goal that counted after being reviewed, but midway through the period, Will Hillman responded for the Mavericks, and Minnesota State led 2-1 after two. Tied 2-2 early in the third off a Michigan Tech power play goal, Stillwater grad Adam Eisele scored on a beautiful solo rush to retake the lead for Minnesota state.

With 4:33 remaining in regulation, a penalty shot was awarded to Michigan Tech, and Logan Pietila converted it to tie it at 3-3. Then, with time expiring and overtime expected, a shot from Logan Pietila ricocheted off the glass and back into the crease area, where it bounced off a Minnesota State defender before hitting Adam Tracy’s helmet and rolling into the net with that fluky goal leading to a 4-3 MTU win.

The loss ends the Mavericks’ season in disappointing fashion, especially after winning the Mason Cup the previous two seasons, but the new coaching staff has a nice base to build on in the coming years. Graduate student Sam Morton ended the season as the team’s points leader with 34 points (24 goals, 10 assists), followed closely by Lucas Sowder (13-14—27) and Evan Murr (6-20—26). 

Sam Morton, Minnesota State

No. 18 St. Cloud State (17-15-5) vs. No. 14 Western Michigan (21-15-1)

In the quarterfinal best-of-three series, game one saw the Huskies carry a 1-0 lead into the second, and halfway through the period, Tyson Gross scored to make it 2-0. Holding onto that two-goal cushion to start the third, St. Cloud State extended their lead 7:14 into the period, with Veeti Miettinen tallying a shorthanded goal on a beautiful passing play.

The game looked all but over, but Mr. Prior Lake Alex Bump had different ideas, scoring two goals in quick succession to bring the score to 3-2. With just over five minutes to play, the Broncos took a five-minute major penalty, and the Huskies took full advantage, adding two power-play goals from Mason Salquist and Josh Luedtke to close out the game and win 5-2.

In game two, the teams skated to a scoreless first period, with Isak Posch having a strong start in net for the Huskies, saving all 15 shots on net. Tyson Gross opened the scoring 7:12 into the second to put the Huskies ahead 1-0 and mark his fourth consecutive game with a goal. With just under three minutes to play in the second, Sam Colangelo responded for the Broncos, leading to a 1-1 scoreline heading into the final frame.

A quick Broncos power-play goal opened the third, and it was all Western Michigan from that point on, with the visitors adding four additional goals in the period to win 6-1 and force a deciding game three. Two of the final four goals came off the stick of Sam Colangelo to complete his hat trick, with Alex Bump notching three assists in the game to reach 34 points on the season.

The Huskies came out hungry in game three and took an early lead via a goal from Veeti Miettinen, with the team later adding goals from Jack Rogers and Barrett Hall to make it 3-0 only 11:17 into the first. Western Michigan’s Matteo Costantini quickly answered only seconds after to bring the score to 3-1, with that score holding through to the first intermission.

An early second-period Broncos penalty resulted in a Veeti Miettinen goal, marking his twentieth goal scored this season, and Josh Luedtke fired home goal No. 5 off a quick release from the slot, leading to a 5-1 Husky lead after two. Goaltender Isak Posch saved all six shots on net in the third for a 32-save game, helping the Huskies win 5-1 and move on to the semifinal round. 

In the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals, St. Cloud will face the No. 3 ranked and No. 3 seed Denver Pioneers, with North Dakota playing Nebraska-Omaha on the other side of the bracket. The Huskies will play in the later game, with puck drop at 7:30 pm CT at the Xcel Energy Center. 

Barrett Hall, St. Cloud State

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