Roundup: Things Get Heated During, After Denver Sweep
Bowling Green, Minnesota State, NMU Earn WCHA Wins
CHN Staff Report
After suffering a weekend sweep a week ago at Western Michigan — while allowing six or more goals in consecutive games for the first time since February 2005 — Denver rebounded in a big way at home, sweeping previously unbeaten St. Cloud State.
Following a 4-2 win on Friday night, the Pioneers toppled the Huskies, 5-1, on Saturday.
"Last week was obviously a disappointment," said senior defenseman Adam Plant. "We worked hard in practice, and we went back to the details. That's what it takes to be a good defensive team."
Plant kickstarted the offense for the reigning national champions on Saturday, too, as the Penticton, B.C., native tallied two power-play goals. Dylan Gambrell and Jarod Lukosevicius added third period goals, and Denver finished the game 3-for-8 on the power play. The Huskies — whose only score came in the third, a Kevin Fitzgerald marker that at the time cut the Denver lead to 3-1 — finished 0-for-5.
In a matchup of two of the nation's top teams, the intensity of the weekend series — and in particular, Saturday's chippy, end-to-end affair — reached a boiling point late in the third period. After a boarding infraction by St. Cloud defenseman Jack Ahcan, tempers flared, with several players involved in a skirmish that left sticks and helmets scattered in the St. Cloud defensive zone.
Notably, this came five minutes after Lukosevicius was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following his goal celebration.
"He said something to the bench, is what was told to me," Montgomery said. "I don't know exactly. But I'm going to address it with him because it's not the way we like to carry ourselves."
The fireworks continued after the final whistle, too. As Montgomery shook hands with St. Cloud head coach Bob Motzko, the two head coaches exchanged words, and the interaction — complete with pointing, gesturing, and (with lip-reading) some expletives — quickly became heated. The linesmen and assistant coaches stood in between the pair, and ultimately, Montgomery walked to the locker room, while Motzko joined his team in the handshake line.
After the game, a calmer Montgomery addressed the interaction immediately.
"He's a great coach," Montgomery said. "We both probably said some things we regret. It's just the emotion of the game. It's over and done with for me."
Still, fireworks aside, Montgomery was pleased with his team's effort — in all phases of the game.
"I thought our penalty kill gave us energy," Montgomery said. "Every time, it gave us momentum. Five-on-five, we started taking over in the second period. The five minute power play, actually, I thought was the worst five minutes of the period for us. But in the third period, our power play did a really good job. I thought that Adam Plant's unit was awesome with how they generated momentum for us."
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Alex Leclerc had a season-high 41 saves and posted his first shutout of the season to lead Colorado College to a 4-0 win over Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday at World Arena. The teams split the wekeend.
CC’s penalty kill fought off four Omaha power plays, including a five-minute advantage midway through the third period after Tanner Ockey was whistled for a major checking-from-behind penalty and given a game misconduct. Leclerc made 13 saves during the five-minute penalty kill and 19 overall in the third period.
“Our penalty kill was outstanding against the best power play in the country,” CC coach Mike Haviland said. “Your goalie needs to be your best penalty killer and Alex certainly was for us tonight.”
The sophomore from Longueuil, Quebec, has allowed two goals or fewer in half of CC’s 12 games and lowered his goals-against average to 2.59.
“Everyone involved with the penalty kill was in the zone tonight,” Leclerc said. “The main difference tonight was our special teams. We need to be consistent in the special teams to be successful.”
Colorado College (7-5-0, 3-3-0 NCHC) not only killed its own penalties, but took full advantage of Omaha’s by scoring its first two goals on the power play — from Nick Halloran and Westin Michaud.
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Christian Wolanin gave North Dakota the extra point, and a five-point weekend, by getting the only shootout goal of the night, in the fourth round. North Dakota defeated Miami, after the teams tied, 3-3, through regulation and the five-minute overtime.
"We're happy. Five out of six points is almost as good as it gets," Wolanin said.
In a game of swings, Miami jumped to a 2-0 lead on goals from Gordie Green and Ryan Siroky, but UND stormed back with goals from Colton Poolman and Dixon Bowend.
UND took a 3-2 lead at 16:22 of the third period, thanks to a brilliant play by rookie Grant Mismash. He had the puck alone in front of goalie Ryan Larkin, but with no angle to score. Rather than just fire into Larkin's pads, he took a couple of strides behind the net and rifled a pass to the far side to Shane Gersich, who buried his fourth of the year.
But Miami pulled Larkin for a sixth attacker with two minutes left in regulation and converted. After an icing call on UND with 1:33 left in the period, Miami won the faceoff and defenseman Louie Belpedio whipped a pass to Josh Melnick, who scored with 1:24 remaining.
Two overtime sessions failed to produce a goal, though UND thought it had scored in the first overtime when Johnny Simonsin pushed in a puck off a scramble. But after a lengthy video review, the officials ruled that Larkin had the puck covered with his goalie pad, and then was pushed into the net.
"We'll take 'em," UND coach Brad Berry said of the win and tie. "Come back from 2-0, shows a resiliency and the response from the guys, and the character in the lockerroom, finding a way to do it. I think it is a learning lesson as far as going down two goals. Can't afford to do that.
"But the biggest thing is finding a way to come back from that. Put that in your back pocket later in the season when you have to come back from a goal or two. We've got a lot of things to work on, try to get better at, but I liked our resolve tonight."
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Western Michigan was shut out Friday night in a loss to Minnesota-Duluth, one week after scoring 14 goals in two wins against previously-unbeaten Denver.
That juxtaposition was a bit head scratching, though losing to Duluth is nothing to be ashamed of.
That said, WMU rallied strong Saturday night, and put it together on both ends of the ice, defeating the Bulldogs, 5-0, improving to 6-4-1 this season.
Five different players scored, as the Broncos continue to find offense from all over. Ben Blacker stopped 31 shots for the shutout.
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Bowling Green extended its unbeaten streak to seven games with a 5-2 win over Lake Superior State and a weekend WCHA sweep.
Stephen Baylis and Mitchell McLain had two goals each, setting up a battle for first place with Minnesota State next weekend.
"We got better as the game went on. I didn't like the way we started," Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron said. "I'm happy more and more guys are contributing in the scoresheet, and a good third period. ... We handled adversity well.
Baylis scored an early shorthanded goal, but Bergeron thought the team went into early cruise control from there.
"After the shortie, everything's good, there's a little bit of buzz, then we let up a really poor goal from a D-zone faceoff," Bergeron said. "And then we're fighting ourselves, and an opponent that is hungry.
"But our mentality got better and better. And the game got crusty, as it can, and as it did, our guys got more engaged and involved."
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A player from each team had a hat trick, but Minnesota State's Max Coatta had more help.
The Mavericks got three third-period goals, including Coatta's final one, to pull away from Bemidji State, in a wild 8-6 win at Sanford Center.
The Beavers' Jay Dickman also had a hat trick, his last goal giving BSU a temporary 6-5 lead early in the third period.
“That was one of the crazier games I’ve ever been in,” Coatta told the Mankato Free Press. “I think a big part was trying to stay even-keel and not get too high and not get too low. There was a lot of adversity in the game, but we did a good job controlling what we could control.”
The Mavericks earn the WCHA road sweep and improved to 8-3-0 overall.
“I’m sure (Bemidji coach) Tommy (Serratore) and I will chew that one over for awhile because I think both of us like to pride ourselves on the idea of being responsible (defensively), and that was a little bit of run and gun tonight,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said to the Free Press.
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A pair of rookie head coaches in this heated Upper Peninsula rivalry, now each have a win under the belt after a weekend split.
Michigan Tech, and first-year coach Joe Shawhan, got the win Friday, then Northern Michigan and its coach Grant Potulny returned the favor with a 4-0 whitewashing on Saturday.
Atte Tolvanen had 19 saves for the shutout, in a game that had 51 penalty minutes.
"I think our penalty kill did a good job tonight," Shawhan said. "We competed hard in that aspect of the game, but it's as disappointing of an effort as I've ever been a part of, and that says a lot. I've been around this game for a long time.
"If you don't show up and compete, whatever skill you have will never get a chance to manifest. I tip my hat to Northern and their coaching staff, but I'm disappointed in our effort."