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NO. 3 UMD AND MINNESOTA STATE SET TO COLLIDE IN WCHA PLAYOFF OPENERS AT AMSOIL ARENA
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
With the 2011-12 regular season in the books, the University of Minnesota Duluth will now shift its attention to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs and this weekend’s first-round, best-of-three home series with Minnesota State University-Mankato. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m, Friday (March 9), Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday at AMSOIL Arena (6,726) in downtown Duluth.
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THE RECORDS: The defending NCAA national champion Bulldogs, who are unbeaten in six of their last seven outings (4-1-2), own a 22-8-6 overall record and placed second in the final WCHA standings at 16-7-5 while the Mavericks are 12-22-2 in all games and were 8-18-2 in league play (11th place).
HOW THEY RANK: Here is how UMD and Minnesota State stacked up in the latest USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls as well as the PairWise rankings:
USCHO.com USA Today PairWise
UMD 3rd 3rd 2nd(t)
MSU NR NR NR
ON THE AIR: All of the Bulldog-Maverick clashes this weekend will be carried locally on 94X (94.1/104.3 FM) with Bruce Ciskie handling the play-by-play. The broadcast can also be heard on KQ 105.5 in Grand Rapids/Hibbing and KQ 106.7 in Ely/Virginia as part of the Bulldog Radio Network and is available on the internet at: www.fan1490.com.
In addition, My9 (KBJR DT 6.2/KRII DT 11.9) will televise the entire playoff series. Veteran sports anchor Tom Hansen and former Bulldog puck standout Judd Medak will serve as the on-air talent. My9, which is scheduled to carry 20 games during the 2011-12 regular season, is also available locally on Charter and Mediacom cable. The telecast will be videostreammed as well and can be viewed for a fee through America ONE at www.b2tv.com.
THE COACHES: The runnerup for the 2010-11 Spencer Penrose Award (American Hockey Coaches Association NCAA Division I Coach of the Year) and recipient of that honor in 2003-04, Scott Sandelin is in his 12th season behind the UMD bench where he has compiled a 214-208-58 overall record -- including an 92-48-21 mark (a .637 winning percentage) since the 2008-09 opener. Besides capturing the school’s first NCAA championship one year ago and rolling up the team’s best overall record in 19 years (26-10-6), his Bulldogs have posted four consecutive 22-win seasons, and advanced to three NCAA tournaments (2004, 2009 and 2011), two Frozen Fours (2004 and 2011) and six of the past nine WCHA Final Five events. In March 2009, UMD became the first play-in game participant to ever claim the Final Five title and, later that spring, strung together a school-record six-game postseason winning streak before it fell to Miami University 2-1 in the NCAA West Regional final. Eight years ago, Sandelin, 47, turned UMD into a NCAA Frozen Four participant for the first time in nearly a generation, marshaling his troops to their most victories (they were 28-13-4 overall) and highest WCHA finish (second place on a 19-7-2 mark) since 1992-93. For his efforts, the Hibbing, Minn., native was chosen the WCHA Coach of the Year as well as the national coach of the year by both insidecollegehockey.com and uscho.com. In 2002-03, Sandelin’s Bulldogs went 22-15-5 overall and captured fifth place in the WCHA with a 14-10-4 mark while experiencing the greatest one-season turnaround of any league club that winter. One year earlier, he guided UMD to a 13-24-1 record in all games -- nearly doubling the number of victories from the previous season (7-28-4). Sandelin officially signed on as a member of the Bulldog staff on March 31, 2000 following six years of assistant coaching deployment at North Dakota. Prior to joining the Fighting Sioux (who won two NCAA titles during his tenure), Sandelin spent the 1993-94 season as the head coach of the Fargo-Moorhead Junior Kings of the Junior Elite Hockey League after working in that same capacity (and doubling as general manager) the previous winter with the American Hockey Association’s Fargo-Moorhead Express. He capped off his four-year playing career at North Dakota in 1985-86 by being named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. An All-WCHA first team pick and an All-American second team selection as a senior, Sandelin went on to play seven years of professional hockey, which included National Hockey League stints with the Montreal Canadiens (1986-88), Philadelphia Flyers (1990-91) and Minnesota North Stars (1991-92). Sandelin, one of just two current WCHA coaches to do time in the NHL, was the Montreal Canadiens’ second-round pick in the 1982 NHL draft (40th choice overall). He served as Team USA’s head coach at the 2005 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships, directing that club to a fourth-place finish, and was an assistant coach for the U.S. at that same event this winter.
Troy Jutting (MSU, 1987), the 2002-03 WCHA Coach of the Year, is also in his 12th season of head coaching duty at MSU and has a 184-220-55 record to show for it (including a 13-21-6 mark against UMD). Jutting, who directed the Mavericks to their only NCAA Division I post-season berth nine years ago, was named MSU’s head coach on March 27, 2000 (four days before Scott Sandelin officially accepted the head coaching job at UMD) following a 10-season tenure as a Maverick assistant. He was a four-time hockey letterman with the Mavericks (1982-86) and attained All-Northern Collegiate Hockey Association honors as a senior.
THE RIVALRY: UMD and Minnesota State will collide for the 45th time ever Friday night. The Bulldogs hold a 23-16-6 lead in the all-time series, which began on Oct. 17, 1997 in Duluth, and went 3-0-1 against the Mavericks during the 2011-12 regular season. That included a two-game sweep of their intrastate rivals (5-2 and 7-3) on Nov. 18-19 at AMSOIL Arena. The two clubs also met three weeks ago (Feb. 17-18) in Mankato, Minn., where UMD skated off with a 4-2 win and a 4-4 overtime tie.
LAST WEEKEND: The Bulldogs came away one point in their regular season finale series at St. Cloud State University last weekend, battling to a 3-3 tie with the Huskies on Saturday after falling 2-1 the previous night. Junior left winger Keegan Flaherty accounted for the lone UMD goal in the opener while rookie left winger Caleb Herbert, sophomore right winger J.T. Brown and senior defenseman Brady Lamb each scored once on Saturday. UMD outshot the Huskies 69-45 on the weekend, but held the lead just once 3-2 for 14:15 in the rematch) during the two-game set.
Minnesota State was ambushed twice (4-2 and 3-0) by No. 14 North Dakota in a two-game WCHA road set on Friday and Saturday.
PLAYOFF PASTS: In 118 lifetime WCHA playoff games, the Bulldogs are 42-72-4 -- 3-1-0 against Minnesota State. The two clubs last met in the postseason in the opening round of the 2003-04 WCHA playoffs in Duluth, where UMD prevailed in three games on its way to its first Frozen Four appearance in 19 years. The Bulldogs closed out the previous season by turning back the Mavericks 6-4 in the third place game of the WCHA Final Five tourney in St. Paul.
PLAYOFF PASTS, PART II: UMD owns a 22-10-2 record in 34 lifetime WCHA home playoff clashes and has won each of the four series it has played in Duluth (going 8-2-0) since the arrival of current head coach Scott Sandelin.
TAKING THE MAV BY THE HORNS: Not only are the Bulldogs unbeaten in 13 of their last 14 overall confrontations with Minnesota State (11-1-2), but they haven’t lost at home to the Mavericks since Jan. 28, 2006, going 7-0-1 in the interim.
PLAYOFF PUNCH: The top active Bulldog playoff (WCHA and NCAA) scoring leaders are as follows:
Name GP G A TP +/-
Jack Connolly 18 8 10 18 +3
Travis Oleksuk 18 2 7 9 -3
Brady Lamb 18 2 6 8 +5
J.T. Brown 7 2 3 5 +2
Mike Seidel 11 1 2 3 -2
Wade Bergman 11 1 2 3 +2
Jake Hendrickson 7 0 2 2 +2
Max Tardy 4 1 0 1 -1
Joe Basaraba 7 0 1 1 0
Cody Danberg 11 0 1 1 -1
Scott Kishel 1 0 0 0 0
Dan DeLisle 4 0 0 0 -2
Keegan Flaherty 10 0 0 0 -1
Drew Olson 11 0 0 0 0
David Grun 11 0 0 0 -4
Name GP/GS W-L-T GA GAA SVS SVS
Kenny Reiter 11/11 8-3-0 23 1.93 292 .926
Aaron Crandall 0/0 0-0-0 0 0.00 0 .000
JACKED FOR A RUN AT THE HOBEY: Two-time All-American center Jack Connolly wrapped up the 2011-12 regular season last weekend as the WCHA scoring champion. Connolly, who finished second in the league’s scoring race one year ago, racked up 43 points (16 goals and 27 assists) in WCHA play -- six more than his three closest competitors (which included teammate J.T. Brown) and the most by any player in six years. He became the sixth Bulldog to top the WCHA in points, joining the likes of Junior Lessard (2003-04), Chris Marinucci (1993-94), Derek Plante (1992-93), Bill Watson (1984-85 and 1983-84) and Keith “Huffer” Christiansen (1966-67). A finalist for both the 2010-11 Hobey Baker Memorial Award and this year’s Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, Connolly remains second nationally in both points (55, one back of frontrunner Spencer Abbott of Maine) and is first in assists (37, which ties him with two others) and in power play scoring (29 points). For his career, he has amassed 64 goals and 128 assists for 192 points, which are a hefty 30 more than the next closest active NCAA skater (Yale University’s Brian O’Neill) and puts him in a tie for 9th place (with 1983-84 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Tom Kurvers) on UMD’s all-time scoring charts and four points behind the No. 8 occupant, the legendary “Huffer” Christiansen (1963-67). And talk about consistency: Going back to the start of his sophomore season, Connolly has been held pointless for more than one game in a row only twice (six weeks ago when he was blanked in both ends of the Michigan Tech series, which terminated his school single-season record 22-game scoring streak, and on Jan. 23 and Jan. 29, 2010). In the four outings he’s gone without a goal or an assist this winter, the Bulldogs are a mere 0-3-1. Connolly, the nation’s top returning scorer from a year ago (he finished third in the NCAA with a career-high 59 points), was a member of both the All-WCHA first team and WCHA All-Academic Team the past two winters and is just the second two-time All-American the Bulldogs have ever had in their lineup (defenseman Norm Maciver, in 1985-86, was the other). In addition, he is the first Bulldog to post back-to-back 50-point seasons since Hobey Baker Memorial Award recipient Chris Marinucci turned the trick in 1993-94 (61) and 1992-93 (77). Connolly, who has skated in a UMD-record 161 consecutive games since joining the Bulldog program, is within striking distance of becoming the first NCAA puckster in five years (University of Michigan’s T.J. Hensick) to reach the 200-point career mark.
ACTIVE NCAA CAREER SCORING LEADERS
Player (Yr, School) GP G A TP
1. Jack Connolly (Sr., UMD) 161 64 128 192
2. Brian O’Neill (Sr., Yale) 135 69 93 162
3. Austin Smith (Sr., Colgate) 148 77 78 155
4. Brian Flynn (Sr., Maine) 147 68 85 153
5. Spencer Abbott (Sr., Maine) 146 52 88 140
6. Cameron Burt (Sr., RIT) 142 42 92 134
7. Kelly Zajac (Sr., Union) 152 37 88 125
8. Chris Connolly (Sr., Boston U.) 148 38 86 124
9. Justin Florek (Sr., No. Mich.) 157 54 63 117
10. Andrew Miller (Jr., Yale) 101 24 89 113
11. Reilly Smith (Jr., Miami) 116 62 50 112
Drew Shore (Fr., Denver) 114 49 63 112
13. Justin Schultz (Jr., Wisconsin) 118 39 72 111
14. Travis Oleksuk (Sr., UMD) 129 45 65 110
David Vallorani (Sr., UML) 144 40 70 110
Brad Hunt (Sr., BSU) 148 24 86 110
UMD’S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
Player (Years) GP G A TP
1. Dan Lempe (1976-80) 146 79 143 222
2. Derek Plante (1989-93) 138 96 123 219
Matt Christensen (1982-86) 168 76 143 219
4. Bill Watson (1982-85) 108 89 121 210 5. Gregg Moore (1979-83) 148 99 107 206 6. Scott Carlston (1978-82) 147 87 116 203 7. Tom Milani (1972-76) 146 100 98 198 8. Keith Christiansen (1963-67) 102 75 121 196
9. Jack Connolly (2008- ) 161 64 128 192 Tom Kurvers (1980-84) 164 43 149 192
10. Norm Maciver (1982-86) 165 39 152 191
SENIOR SWAN SONG: UMD’s seven seniors -- centers Jack Connolly and Travis Oleksuk, wingers Cody Danberg and David Grun, defensemen Brady Lamb and Scott Kishel, and goaltender Kenny Reiter -- will be at home for the final time as collegians this weekend. Since enlisting their services with the Bulldogs, that group has collectively enjoyed a remarkable four-year run, capturing the school’s first-ever NCAA title last spring and a WCHA playoff crown (2009) in historic fashion, securing a pair of NCAA playoff berths, spending 12 weeks as the No. 1-ranked team in the country, and amassing a 92-48-21 overall record (for a .637 winning percentage).
HOW ABOUT THAT?: The 2011-12 Bulldogs have reached the 22-victory plateau for the fourth consecutive winter (the first time that has happened since the mid-1980s), captured sole possession of second place in the final WCHA standings -- its highest league finish in eight years and are at home for the opening round of the WCHA playoffs for a third straight season
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?: Right winger J.T. Brown, the reigning Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player and a 2010-11 WCHA All-Rookie Team selection, continues to lead the NCAA in plus-minus rating (+30) and is tied for 10th in scoring with a career-best 44 points. He also tops the Bulldogs in shots on goal this winter with 162 -- 40 more than the next closest Bulldog (senior defenseman Brady Lamb). Brown is the first Bulldog to record two hat tricks in the same season (three goals at Nebraska Omaha on Jan. 13 and four goals at Alaska Anchorage on three weeks later) since MacGregor Sharp did it in 2008-09.
HOME, SWEET HOME: UMD is averaging 6,469 spectators a night during its first full season at AMSOIL Arena. Only six other schools in the country -- the University of Wisconsin (11,773), North Dakota (11,385), Minnesota (9,570), Nebraska-Omaha (7,863), Colorado College (6,931), and Boston College (6,543) -- have drawn more. Since moving into that new $80-million, 6,726-seat downtown facility on Dec. 30, 2010, the Bulldogs have rolled up a 17-9-3 record there (12-5-1 in 2011-12).
WAY TO GO, T.O.: Alternate team captain Travis Oleksuk, who had his personal-best eight-game scoring streak snapped in UMD’s 2-1 loss at St. Cloud State last Friday, has accumulated 16 points (five goals and 11 assists) in his last 10 outings. Last month, Oleksuk became the 54th member of UMD’s century club and he now has 45 goals and 65 assists for 110 points in 129 lifetime outings). The Thunder Bay, Ontario native ranks fifth in the NCAA in scoring (a career-high 48 points), second in plus-minus rating (+23) and is tied for eighth in goals (21, another personal high). Oleksuk also has six-game winning goals to his 2011-12 credit (to rank third nationally) and 15 for his career, which equals the UMD record set by current Bulldog assistant coach Derek Plante (1989-93).
LEAD ‘DOGS: Since the 2010-11 opener, UMD is 34-1-3 (14-0-2 this winter) when taking a lead into the third period with the lone loss coming at the hands of Bemidji State University at the 2011 WCHA Final Five.
THE “REIT” STUFF: Senior goaltender Kenny Reiter, a three-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honoree this winter, owns the sixth best winning percentage in the country to date (.697 off a 20-7-6 record), is fourth nationally in victories (a career-best 20) and has logged the 11th most minutes of any NCAA puckstopper (1720:19). The Pittsburgh, Pa., native, who started 30 of the UMD’s last 31 WCHA engagements, also currently ranks fourth in the WCHA in goals against average (2.45). Reiter, a four-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient who earlier this season set a team record for consecutive shutout minutes (166:45 from Nov. 4-12), is now 49-24-11 for his career with the Bulldogs. That translates into a .649 winning percentage, the second best figure in club history behind All-American Rick Kosti’s .753 mark (60-18-2 between 1983-85). He also holds a share of the team record (with All-American Alex Stalock, 2006-09) for career shutouts with nine and is fifth all-time in victories. Going back to the start of the 2011 NCAA postseason, Reiter has suffered just seven losses in 37 appearances (24-7-6). His current career 2.38 goals against average and .912 saves percentage are the best two marks ever compiled by a Bulldog. The 2011 NCAA East Regional Most Outstanding Player, he backstopped the Bulldogs to their first national title last April while turning in the third best single-season goals against average (2.30) and saves percentage (.914) in team history.
REITER’S CAREER SHUTOUTS
Date Opponent Score Saves
11/11/11 Alaska Anchorage 5-0 27
11/5/11 @Denver 4-0 29
10/29/11 Bemidji State 1-0 23
3/25/11 Union College# 2-0 32
1/21/11 @Michigan Tech 5-0 14
1/14/11 Wisconsin 2-0 22
3/14/10 Colorado College* 4-0 25
1/30/10 Wisconsin 4-0 28
1/2/10 Mercyhurst+ 6-0 26
#NCAA East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.)
*WCHA Playoffs +in Burlington, Vt.
THEIR BEST PERIOD. PERIOD: The Bulldogs have outscored the opposition 47-29 in the third period this season and those 47 goals are tops among all WCHA schools (they share that honor with Minnesota). In addition, they have also give up the league’s fewest second-period goals (27).
A PLUS ON THE BLUELINE: Chris Casto, one of 12 Bulldogs who has taken part in each of the 36 games to date, paces all NCAA rookie defensemen -- and is fourth among all of the nation’s freshmen -- in plus-minus rating (+18).
THE OLD ONE-TWO PUNCH: The Bulldogs, who have assembled college hockey’s second best winning percentage (.694), pace the nation in goals with an average of 3.67 per night and are also the second best team in the WCHA at preventing them (2.56 gpg).
ROOKIE ON THE RISE: Left winger Caleb Herbert has produced the seventh highest scoring yield (31 points on 13 goals and 18 assists) of any NCAA newcomer at the moment.
GET SHORTIE: The Bulldogs have scored the fewest handed shorthanded goals (one) of any WCHA club in 2011-12, but have also given up a league-low two of their own (both at home against Michigan Tech on Jan. 27 and the University of Notre Dame on Oct. 8).
FREE HOCKEY: The Bulldogs are now unbeaten in 35 of their last 39 overtime games (14-4-21, 1-1-6 in 2011-12) stretching back to the start of the 2008-09 season. A school-record 15 of UMD’s 42 engagements last winter (35.7 percent) required an extra session, and UMD was 7-2-6 in those. The seven sudden-death victories also eclipsed the previous club standard of five set in 1984-85. Travis Oleksuk leads all active Bulldogs in career overtime goals (three) and also assisted on Kyle Schmidt’s sudden-death score in UMD’s 3-2 win over the University of Michigan in the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four title game. In the Bulldogs’ eight overtime victories over the past two seasons, he has figured in on five of the game winners, scoring two of them himself and helping set up three others.
Player OT Goals
Travis Oleksuk 3
J.T. Brown 2
Jack Connolly 1
Cody Danberg 1
PLENTY OF SENIOR MOMENTS: UMD continues to sport the highest-scoring senior class in the NCAA. The seven Bulldogs in the group, including Kenny Reiter (five assists, one shy of the UMD record for goalies)and left winger Cody Danberg, who has been out of action with injuries since the 2011-12 opener, have combined to roll up 51 goals and 107 assists for 158 points.
HOW SWEEP IT ISN’T: Since being upended twice at North Dakota on Feb. 19-20, 2010, the Bulldogs have been swept just once in 30 WCHA series (vs. Minnesota on Oct. 14-15, 2011 in Duluth).
MAKING A POINT: Of the 14 veterans on the 2011-12 UMD roster (not including the injured Cody Danberg), 11 have achieved career highs for scoring this winter:
Name Yr Pts Previous High
Joe Basaraba So. 14 5 (2010-11)
Wade Bergman Jr. 17 10 (2010-11)
J.T. Brown So. 44 37 (2010-11)
Keegan Flaherty Jr. 10 7 (2010-11)
Jake Hendrickson So. 7 5 (2010-11)
Scott Kishel Sr. 17 8 (2009-10)
Brady Lamb Sr. 26 24 (2009-10)
Travis Oleksuk Sr. 48 33 (2010-11)
Drew Olson Jr. 7 4 (2010-11)
Mike Seidel Sr. 26 14 (2010-11)
Max Tardy So. 7 3 (2010-11)
IRON JACK: When he took his first faceoff against North Dakota on Feb. 10, 2012, senior center Jack Connolly established a new UMD record for consecutive games played with 154. That was one more appearance than the previous record holder, Jeff Scissons, made between 1996-2000. The following is a listing of active Bulldog ironman streaks.
Name Games Streak Started
Jack Connolly 161 10/10/08
Travis Oleksuk 110 11/6/09
David Grun 98 1/8/10
Keegan Flaherty 76 10/15/10
BOMBS AWAY: UMD has been outshot in only seven of its 36 games this season and currently rank second in the country in shots with a 35.4 per game average.
AT THE HEAD OF THEIR CLASS: Three Bulldogs -- sophomore goaltender Aaron Crandall, redshirted freshman defenseman Luke McManus and senior goaltender Kenny Reiter -- were among the 61 men to qualify for a WCHA Scholar Athlete Award for 2011-12. Reiter, attained that distinguished honor for a fourth time (something only four other league players have ever done since the award’s inception in 2005-06) while Crandall was a 2010-11 honoree.
ONE CLASS ACT: Jack Connolly is one of 10 NCAA I hockey players -- and the lone WCHA representative --- who has been chosen as finalists for the 2011-12 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The award is presented annually to an NCAA I athlete in 10 sports (men’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, men’s lacrosse, softball, football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball) based on achievement in the “Four C’s” -- classroom, character, community and competition. Connolly, UMD’s second Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award finalist (Andrew Carroll was the first in 2008-09), maintains a 3.30 cumulative GPA as a communication major and will graduate this May.
BULLDOG BITS: After going his first two seasons -- 74 games worth -- without a goal, junior right winger Keegan Flaherty has scored seven times in 2011-12 and recorded the Bulldogs’ lone shorthanded tally thus far (Dec. 2 at Michigan Tech) ... Junior defenseman Wade Bergman ended a nine-point pointless skid with an assist in UMD’s 2-1 setback to St. Cloud State last Friday, one day after skating in his 100th career game -- a milestone six other Bulldogs eclipsed earlier this season ... Over the past two seasons, the Bulldogs are unbeaten in 32 of the 34 outings junior winger and good luck charm Mike Seidel has marked in the points column (27-2-5) ... In 10 lifetime road appearances, sophomore goaltender Aaron Crandall is 7-2-1 with a 2.28 goals against average and a .912 saves percentage -- a noticeable contrast to his home numbers (5-2-0, 3.48 and .857 in 10 outings). He and his younger brother, rookie left winger Justin Crandall, are the first siblings to play together for the Bulldogs in 11 years (Defenseman Ryan Coole, then a senior, and his younger brother, freshman goaltender Adam Coole, were the last in 2000-01) ... UMD’s 17-game unbeaten streak, which came to an end on Jan. 14 at Nebraska-Omaha, was three games better than the previous team record set between Jan. 2-Feb. 21, 2004. (The Bulldogs, who went 13-0-1 during that torrid stretch, proceeded to earn a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four that same season) ... Jack Connolly tops the 2011-12 Bulldogs in home scoring with 30 points while fellow senior center Travis Oleksuk is next with 24 points ... In their eight losses thus far in 2011-12, the Bulldogs have connected on just five of their 39 power play opportunities (12.8 percent) while the opposition is a sizzling 13-for-33 (39.4 percent) with the man advantage ... The three-game losing streak which the Bulldogs extinguished at Providence College earlier this season was their longest slump since Feb. 19-26, 2010 when they also dropped three straight outings, including a pair to North Dakota. UMD was one of just two teams in the entire country (Boston College was the other) who went through the entire 2010-11 season without suffering any back-to-back losses ... The 2011-12 active UMD roster (junior center Aaron Jamnick, a transfer from Providence College, has to sit out all of this season per NCAA rules) consists of seven seniors, six juniors, five sophomores, and seven freshmen ... Sophomore defenseman Tim Smith is the first UMD newcomer with previous Division I experience (Providence College in 2009) since Jesse Unkelsbay, who joined UMD as junior in 2002-03 following two years at Alaska Anchorage ... When rookie defenseman Derik Johnson hit the ice for the first against Minnesota back in October, it completed the ninth father-son combination to play for the Bulldogs. Derik’s father, Jim Johnson, also patrolled the UMD blueline and during his senior season in 1984-85 served as team captain before going on to enjoy a 13-year National Hockey League career. (He currently is an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals). The father of senior center Travis Oleksuk -- Bill Oleksuk -- also played for the Bulldogs and captained UMD in 1981-82. He’s also currently the school’s 12th all-time leading scorer ... UMD posted a 6-1-1 non-conference record in 2011-12 for a .813 wining percentage. The last time a Bulldog club turned in a better mark was in 1995-96 (4-0-0) ... The 5-0 setback to Michigan Tech on Jan. 28, is the Bulldogs’ only shutout loss in their last 115 WCHA games. Prior to that, the last club that had held UMD scoreless in league play that was North Dakota, which skated off with a 2-0 triumph on March 1, 2008 in Duluth ... As a group, UMD’s defensemen rank sixth in the country with 88 points (16 goals and 72 assists) ... Head coach Scott Sandelin has collected more career wins at the expense of Minnesota State (21) than all but one opponent (Michigan Tech, 24) and notched victory No. 200 against the Mavericks on Nov. 18, 2011 (5-2).
NEXT UP: The six, first-round playoff survivors will advance to the WCHA Final Five tournament, which begins on March 17 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Bulldogs have appeared in six of the past nine WCHA Final Five events, including the last three in a row.
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