UM Duluth defeats Minnesota in men's hockey
MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota's special teams weren't so special Sunday, and that resulted in a 6-2 loss to 19th-ranked Minnesota-Duluth on Sunday in the second game of a nonconference series at Mariucci Arena.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak and 10-game home win streak for the top-ranked Gophers (9-2-1).
"You can't give up four goals on the penalty kill and give up a short-handed goal and give yourself a chance to win," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "I thought we didn't play with great structure today. I didn't think we were real disciplined today in our play, whether it is taking penalties or just in proper stick positioning on our penalty kill."
Unlike Friday night's game, when Minnesota jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first period, the Bulldogs (6-5-1) scored three unanswered goals Sunday.
UMD goaltender Matt McNeely did his part, making 13 of his 36 saves before the first intermission.
"I was pleased that the score was still 0-0," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. "I could get out of here every period with 0-0 in the first period on any night and be happy because they (Minnesota) are typically a fast-starting team.
"I thought they (Minnesota) did start a little better then us tonight, but our goalie kept it 0-0, and we capitalized. It was almost a mirror image of (Friday's game)."
The Bulldogs opened with a short-handed goal by Dominic Toninato 7:47 into the game -- the first short-handed goal the Gophers have given up this season -- and converted four of seven power-play opportunities.
"It was nice to get some power-play goals because it has been a little bit of a struggle," Sandelin said. "We put together some decent runs here lately. Hopefully, we can build on that."
Lucia, whose Gophers were just 2 for 10 with a man advantage, said a team can't be successful with that level of power-play conversion.
"The special teams were the big thing tonight," he said.
After Tony Cameranesi made it 2-0 with an even-strength goal at 10:25 of the first period, Justin Crandall scored while on a 5-on-3 power play to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead at 14:27.
Mike Reilly finally got the Gophers on the scoreboard with a power-play goal at 8:42 of the second period, but UMD answered with back-to-back power-play goals to increase the lead to 5-1 entering the final period.
Two days after posting a career-high 36 saves in a 6-1 win, Gophers goaltender Adam Wilcox was pulled after allowing five goals on 17 shots. Michael Shibrowski relieved him with just over four minutes left in the second period.
"He was hung out to dry a little bit," Lucia said of Wilcox. "He had the 5-on-3 back door; he had a couple of those back-door plays, and we just weren't in great position."
Lucia added that the Gophers weren't mentally engaged to play smart against UMD, and their mental errors didn't give the team a chance to win.
After Crandall increased UMD's lead to 6-1 with his second power-play goal of the game, the Gophers got their power-play goal of the game, with Michael Brodzinski completed the scoring at 8:56.
Up next for Minnesota is the start of the inaugural Big Ten season, with the Badgers coming to Mariucci Arena on Friday and Saturday.
"We have to learn from it and just come back to work on Tuesday and get better and try to get ready for Wisconsin," Lucia said.