UMD: Practice as usual; blizzard just an annoyance

The snow arrived in Duluth on Wednesday and is presently falling at a rate of an inch an hour. Schools, including Minnesota Duluth, have canceled classes. The Bulldogs indicated they would….PRACTICE AS USUAL….Wednesday afternoon.

A blizzard warning story from the News Tribune is here.

UMD will bus as scheduled to St. Cloud State on Thursday.

UMD’s games, 7:37 p.m. Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday, are on 94.1 FM and Charter Cable 87 in Duluth-Superior.

WCHA offensive player of the week J.T. Brown said Tuesday he felt good last weekend against Colorado College, returning to play after a week off because of an upper body injury. In a series sweep he had two goals and an assist, and had 19 shots on goal, including 10 on Saturday, a UMD single-game high this season. Brown ranks first in Division I in plus-minus at plus-27.

“At first I felt a step behind and it was a matter of just getting back on the same page as my linemates (Travis Oleksuk and Caleb Herbert),” said Brown. “I wasn’t concerned. I didn’t think I needed to hold back. I felt confident enough to be out there, so I wasn’t going to hold back.”

UMD team physician, Jeff Klassen of Essentia Health in Duluth, said he talked with Brown about returning to play. Klassen expected Brown to ease his way back in, and then saw the sophomore right winger take a slap shot on his first shift.

St. Cloud State captain and senior forward Drew LeBlanc of Hermantown suffered a broken leg in November and was hoping to return for the end of the season. However, St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko indicated Tuesday that it is looking more likely LeBlanc will apply for a medical red shirt and return for a final season in 2012-13. UMD senior forward Cody Danberg, injured in the season’s first game followed by rotator cuff surgery, may ultimately be in the same situation.

Last Friday at Amsoil Arena, UMD senior goalie Kenny Reiter was presented the team’s Fan Favorite Award as sponsored by Stauber Brothers of Duluth, and handed out by former Hobey Baker Memorial Award winning goalie Robb Stauber. A story link and photo from the UMD sports information office is here.

Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey has a few thoughts on a few subjects, including lagging ticket sales at St. Cloud State here.

Wisconsin plays at Minnesota to end the regular season in a series that will help determine the WCHA champion. The Badgers have won three straight games and could end up anywhere from eighth to 11th place. The Wisconsin State Journal has an update here.

Chris Peters of the United States of Hockey addresses a few subjects including the 2012 men’s Frozen Four getting downgraded on ESPN: semifinals on ESPNU and title game on ESPN2 in a blog post here.

Mike Locker reported on Facebook on Wednesday that J.T. Brown and defenseman Luke McManus took time to visit a Portman youth team in Duluth. A photo is:

Rare UMD trip to St. Cloud State coincides with Friday NHC expansion groundbreaking

Minnesota Duluth plays its first hockey games at the National Hockey Center in more than two years on Friday (7:37 p.m.) and Saturday (7:07 p.m.) against St. Cloud State. The final regular-season series of 2011-12 coincides with the groundbreaking for a $30 million expansion to the building to be completed in 2013. The rink will have 20-30 luxury suites and increased seating to 8,000.

At Friday’s 3 p.m. ceremony at center ice, among the dignitaries will be St. Cloud, Minn., Mayor Dave Kleis and St. Cloud State athletic director Morris Kurtz.

Charter Cable channel 87 will carry the UMD-St. Cloud State series in the Duluth-Superior area.

UMD hasn’t played at St. Cloud State since Oct. 23-24, 2009. The teams last met in the 2011 WCHA playoffs at Amsoil Arena which resulted in a UMD sweep, 4-2 and 3-2 in triple overtime.

The St. Cloud State athletic department is offering a 2-for-1 ticket deal for both games of the series. Information is here.

With Minnesota holding a two-point lead over UMD in the WCHA regular-season title race, it sounds as if league commissioner Bruce McLeod will be in Minneapolis this weekend as the Gophers face Wisconsin at Mariucci Arena. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has an update on the MacNaughton Cup here.

Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey looks at some likely WCHA playoff pairing possibilities here.

College Hockey News has this week’s look at favorites for the 2012 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, including Jack Connolly, here.

Bruce Ciskie continues to look at possible WCHA post-season award winners, including coach of the year here.

Minnesota State-Moorhead, which entertained the idea of starting a Division I men’s team, gave up that hope Monday because of a lack of resources. The Fargo-Forum has an update here.

Mike Connolly traded to Avalanche

Former Minnesota Duluth All-American winger Mike Connolly was traded from the San Jose Sharks organization to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday in an NHL transaction.

Connolly, 22, in his first year as a professional, had 10 goals and 20 assists for 30 points in 40 games this season with Worcester (Mass.) in the American Hockey League. He’ll join the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, in Cleveland.

Connolly, from Calgary, Alberta, was voted as UMD’s most valuable player and most inspirational player for 2010-11. He was traded along with forwards Jamie McGinn and Michael Sgarbossa from San Jose to Colorado for forwards Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi.

A story link from the Denver Post is here.

Monday’s Polls: UMD No. 2 in USCHO and USA Today

In Monday’s polls, rankings and computer updates Minnesota Duluth is No. 2 in the U.S. College Hockey Online here and USA Today-USA Hockey Magazine polls; No. 3 in the Inside College Hockey Power Rankings here; and No. 1 in the Pairwise Rankings here.

Goon’s World has weekly WCHA rankings here.

U.S. College Hockey Online has a WCHA weekend recap here.

Bruce Ciskie begins his look at contenders for annual WCHA awards, starting with the top rookies here.

St. Cloud State, at home this weekend with UMD to close the regular season, has seen its hopes fade for home ice in the WCHA playoffs. A St. Cloud Times story is here.

Bob Nygaard of the UMD sports information office notes that Jack Connolly, in Sports Illustrated’s Feb. 27 edition in Faces in the Crowd, continues a Bulldog tradition. Previously, volleyball outside hitter Vicky Braegelmann (2008) and women’s hockey forward Emmanuelle Blais (2010) had the same distinction. The Connolly entry looks something like this

Tickets for UMD’s WCHA first-round playoff series at Amsoil Arena, March 9-11, are on sale at UMD (726-8595) and DECC ticket offices or through Ticketmaster.com.

For the WCHA Final Five at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center March 15-17: should the Bulldogs advance, their first game would be in the semifinals (either 2 or 7 p.m.) on March 16.

FINAL FIVE SINGLE GAME TICKETS Single game tickets (if available) go on sale to the public Monday, March 5, Purchase tickets in person at the Xcel Energy Center box office, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000.

FINAL FIVE TOURNAMENT PACKAGES are already in sale. All tournament packages are $160 for lower level, club level and upper level side sections and $75 for upper level end sections. Each ticket package includes five tickets, one ticket to each of the five games of the tournament. Click here for information on Tournament Packages.

This story is a week old, but it details Alex Stalock’s successful return to the American Hockey League, with the Worcester (Mass.) Sharks, less than a year after suffering leg nerve damage. Stalock was 5-1 with Stockton (Calif.) in the East Coast Hockey League and is 1-1 back with Worcester. The Worcester Telegram story is here.

The Minnesota Hockey Journal catches up with former UMD winger, and Olympian and coach and scout, John Harrington, now working with the Herb Brooks Foundation here.

Two off-ice incidents this season at Boston University, involving legal action, led the Boston Globe to look at what should be, or can be changed, within the program in a story last week here.

Sunday in the WCHA

One week remains in the regular season and Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota will finish 1-2 in some order in the WCHA. Minnesota holds a two-point lead. The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs completed a home sweep of No. 16 Colorado College on Saturday night, 5-2, while No. 6 Minnesota completed a road sweep of Nebraska-Omaha, 3-2.

This weekend, UMD (22-7-5) finishes at St. Cloud State (14-16-4), while Minnesota (23-11-1) is home with Wisconsin (15-15-2).

UMD will almost certainly face Alaska Anchorage or Minnesota State-Mankato in the first round of the WCHA playofs March 9-11 at Amsoil Arena. UMD finished second in the WCHA in 2004 and won the MacNaughton Cup most recently in 1993.

UMD moved to No. 1 in the PairWise Rankings here.

In the top four of the U.S. College Hockey Online poll: No. 1 Ferris State tied and lost to Western Michigan; No. 2 Boston College swept Providence; No. 3 Michigan split with Bowling Green; No. 4 UMD swept CC.

In Division I scoring: No. 1 Maine senior Spencer Abbott 19-37-56; No. 2 Jack Connolly 18-36-54; No. 4 Travis Oleksuk 21-26-47; No. 9 J.T. Brown 20-22-42. UMD is No. 1 in scoring at 3.76. UMD’s power play is ranked tied at No. 10 at 21.7 percent. UMD’s five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) is behind Boston College (9-0), Holy Cross (7-0-1) and Miami of Ohio (6-0).

In WCHA games only, which decides annual statistical leaders — Scoring: No. 1 Connolly 16-26-42, tied at No. 2 Brown 17-18-35, Oleksuk 14-21-35 and Denver’s Drew Shore 12-23-25. (Last season UMD’s top WCHA finishers were: No. 2 Jack Connolly, No. 4 Mike Connolly, No. 6 Justin Fontaine.) In rookie scoring, Caleb Herbert is No. 3 at 10-15-25.

In UMD career scoring, Connolly is tied at No. 10 with 66-127-191 in 159 games (tied with Norm Maciver, 1982-86); Oleksuk is 45th at 45-64-109 in 127 games; Brown has 36-43-79 in 74 games. (UMD senior Haley Irwin is tied at No. 5 in the women’s program career scoring at 79-125-204, tied with Erika Holst, 1999-2003.)

Kenny Reiter had two assists Saturday night to match the only other UMD goalie to have two assists in one game, Isaac Reichmuth, Oct. 31, 2003 vs. Alaska Anchorage. Reiter has 49 career wins, one behind Reichmuth, who is No. 4 in program career victories.

OK, getting to Saturday games. Stories from Amsoil Arena from the News Tribune here and Colorado Springs Gazette here and here.

Also video, this is from Friday’s UMD 4-3 OT win, from Amsoil Arena’s Jeff Stark, including Brown’s sudden death winner here and the UMD women’s 4-3 Friday win over Ohio State here.

College Hockey News has a Division I men’s weekend wrap here.

At Omaha, Neb., freshman Kyle Rau had two goals (and another disallowed) as Minnesota swept Nebraska-Omaha 3-2 before 11,772 fans. A Matt White shorthanded goal with 9:21 to play got Omaha within the final margin. Kent Patterson got his 23rd win of season and 39th of career. The Gophers had two PP goals, were outshot 29-19, have have won four straight. Stories from the Omaha World-Herald here and Minneapolis Star Tribune here.

In Denver, after a scoreless first period, No. 9 Denver scored four in the second on the way to beating No. 14 North Dakota 5-3 for a series split in front of 6,178. The Pioneers were 3-7 on PPs. In a six-goal second period among the goal scorers were Jason Zucker (19) of Denver and Carter Rowney (16) of North Dakota. Denver led 36-30 in shots. Both teams clinched home ice for WCHA playoffs. Brad Eidsness started for North Dakota and Aaron Dell played the last period. North Dakota was delayed in its charter out of Denver because of…..snow. Stories from the Denver Post here and here and Grand Forks Herald here.

In Houghton, Mich., Blake Pietila scored with 98 seconds to play as Michigan Tech topped St. Cloud State 3-2 to split a series before 3,270 fans. St. Cloud State’s Nick Jensen had tied with game on a power play 4:58 into the final period. Tech led in shots 28-20. Josh Robinson got the win. Stories from U.S. College Hockey Online here and the St. Cloud Times here.

At Bemidji, Wisconsin scored the final three goals in beating Bemidji State 4-2 before 3,891 fans. After trailing by 2-1, the Badgers got goals from Sean Little, Justin Schultz (15) and Michael Mersch (13) into and empty net. Wisconsin led in shots 35-23 to complete a series sweep. Stories from the Bemidji Pioneer here and Wisconsin State Journal here.

At Fairbanks, Alaska, the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks beat Alaska Anchorage 3-1, and then claimed a shootout 3-2, to win the Governor’s Cup in front of 4,595 fans. Stories from the Anchorage Daily News here and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner here.

WCHA Standings Courtesy of CollegeHockeyStats.net

 1 Minnesota         38  26 19- 7- 0 .731  85- 52   35 23-11- 1 .671 127- 73
 2 Minnesota Duluth  36  26 16- 6- 4 .692  99- 68   34 22- 7- 5 .721 128- 87
 3 Denver            32  26 14- 8- 4 .615  90- 77   34 19-11- 4 .618 119- 94
 4 North Dakota      29  26 14-11- 1 .558  75- 71   33 18-12- 3 .591 101- 92
 5 Colorado College  27  26 13-12- 1 .519  88- 84   32 16-14- 2 .531 103- 95
   Nebraska Omaha    27  26 11-10- 5 .519  81- 79   34 14-14- 6 .500 103- 99
 7 Michigan Tech     26  26 11-11- 4 .500  83- 80   34 14-16- 4 .471 100-102
 8 St. Cloud State   25  26 11-12- 3 .481  81- 70   34 14-16- 4 .471 107- 95
 9 Wisconsin         22  26 10-14- 2 .423  71- 80   32 15-15- 2 .500  96- 93
10 Bemidji State     21  26  9-14- 3 .404  65- 84   34 15-16- 3 .485  90- 96
11 Minnesota State   18  26  8-16- 2 .346  71- 95   34 12-20- 2 .382  95-115
12 Alaska Anchorage  11  26  5-20- 1 .212  55-104   32  9-21- 2 .312  76-118

Final: UMD 5, Colorado College 2

Minnesota Duluth completed its first full regular season at Amsoil Arena on Saturday night and saluted one of the most successful senior classes in program history before the largest crowd in rink history, 6,808 exuberant fans.

The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs went in style in beating No. 16 Colorado College 5-2 for a weekend sweep as four seniors earned points. UMD clinched at least second place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with two games remaining, staying two points behind first-place Minnesota, which swept at Nebraska-Omaha.

After a 1-1 first-period stalemate, the Bulldogs (22-7-5 and 16-6-4 in the WCHA) broke away with goals 1:47 apart midway through the second period. Junior winger Mike Seidel led the way with a pair of goals, while three seniors — WCHA scoring leader Jack Connolly had three assists and defenseman Brady Lamb and goalie Kenny Reiter each had two assists. Senior center Travis Oleksuk had a team-leading 21st goal.

After letting leads evaporate in recent games against North Dakota, Minnesota State-Mankato and Colorado College, on Friday, the Bulldogs got ahead and stayed ahead to extend its unbeaten streak to five (4-0-1).

“Don’t let up, don’t take your foot off the pedal. That’s what we talked about,” said Seidel. “The biggest thing was making easy plays, chipping the puck out of the zone and going.”

A good swift transition game and solid defense gave UMD a 37-27 shots-on-goal advantage. The Bulldogs went 2-of-3 on power plays, and 4-of-8 for the weekend, for their first WCHA sweep since a pair of 5-3 wins at Michigan Tech on Dec. 2-3.

“We haven’t had an answer for their power play in four years,” said Colorado College coach Scott Owens, whose team is 10-3-2 the last 15 games against UMD. “That’s a good team, they’re awfully dangerous, and can get a lot of momentum in a hurry. They stuck to their game plan for 120 minutes, plus. We had trouble because they are so skilled.”

Reiter, defensemen Lamb and Scott Kishel, and forwards Connolly, Oleksuk, David Grun and Cody Danberg were honored on Senior Night. In the past four seasons, the Bulldogs are 92-47-20 had have won the 2009 Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff title and 2011 NCAA title. The only other similar four-year stretch at UMD, 1983-86, produced a 119-50-9 record.

The team exchanged first-period goals. Seidel, from the right circle, smacked a shot off the far pipe at 9:40 past goalie Joe Howe. With four seconds left in a power play, a Colorado College attempt off the end boards caromed to center Rylan Schwartz at the left edge of the UMD net. His team-leading 22nd goal of the season came with 90 seconds remaining in the first period.

In the second period Seidel connected on a power play, his 14th goal of the season and 27th of his career, putting in a rebound at 7:59, and J.T. Brown finished a 2-on-1 break at 9:46. Brown flicked the puck high from the crease for a team-high tying 20th this season and 36th in 74 career games.

“We saw some opportunities coming on the rush and put the puck away,” said Lamb. “We kept it together for 60 minutes and we are closer and closer to playing like we did on our (17-game) unbeaten streak. We want to make sure to close teams out at the end of the game. That was our lesson (Saturday).”

Three Connolly assists gives him 191 career points in 159 games, putting him No. 11 on UMD’s career scoring list, one point ahead of Bill Oleksuk (1978-82), father of Travis Oleksuk.

Caleb Herbert and Oleksuk, on a power play, provided third period goals. The Tigers are 1-5 the last six games.

“If you look just at the last month, that’s as good as we’ve played,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “Our guys were sharp. We didn’t panic the whole weekend. We just played sharp.”

UMD’s regular season ends this weekend at St. Cloud State.

Colorado College……………. 1-0-1—2

Minnesota Duluth……………. 1-2-2—5

First period — 1. UMD, Mike Seidel 13 (Jack Connolly, Kenny Reiter), 9:40; 2. Colorado College, Rylan Schwartz 22 (William Rapuzzi, Aaron Harstad), 18:30 (pp). Penalties — Wade Bergman, UMD (tripping), 6:39; Keegan Flaherty, UMD (cross-checking), 16:33.

Second period —3. UMD, Seidel 14 (Brady Lamb, Connolly), 7:59 (pp); 4. UMD, J.T. Brown 20 (Caleb Herbert, Reiter), 9:46. Penalties —Tim Hall, Colorado College (cross-checking), 7:15; Drew Olson, UMD (elbowing), 10:17.

Third period —5. UMD, Caleb Herbert 12 (Tim Smith, Brown), 9:19; 6. UMD, Travis Oleksuk 21 (Connolly, Lamb), 18:56 (pp); 7. Colorado College, Andrew Hamburg 2 (Mike Boivin, Harstad), 19:35. Penalties — Joe Basaraba, UMD ( boarding), 9:54; Brown, UMD (holding), 12:03; R. Schwartz, Colorado College (roughing), 14:09; Lamb, UMD (roughing), 14:09; Tim Hall, Colordo College (interference), 14:59; David Civitarese, Colorado College (interference), 17:22.

Shots on goal — Colorado College 9-11-6—26, UMD 9-16-12—37. Goalies — Joe Howe (5-8-1), Colorado College (37 shots-32 saves); Kenny Reiter (20-6-5), UMD (26 shots-24 saves). Power plays — Colorado College 1-of-5, UMD 2-of-4. Referees —Scott Bokal, Craig Welker. Linesmen — Jeff Schultz, Tony Czech.  A —6,808.

Saturday in the WCHA

No. 4-ranked Minnesota Duluth stayed in the MacNaughton Cup race Friday night as the only home team to win a WCHA game — 4-3 over No. 16 Colorado College on a J.T. Brown overtime goal.

Minnesota, also winning in OT, remains two points ahead of UMD with three games to play. Denver is four points behind UMD in third place.

In Division I scoring UMD has No. 2 Jack Connolly, No. 4 Travis Oleksuk and No. 10 Brown. UMD is No. 1 as a team on offense 3.73. The Bulldogs are 3-0-1 the last four games. In the WCHA, for all games, Connolly and Oleksuk are 1-2 in scoring and Brown sixth.

A News Tribune live blog for Saturday’s 7:37 p.m. game is here.

The PairWise Rankings have UMD No. 3 and Colorado College, desperate for a win, at No. 19 here.

Game stories from Amsoil Arena from the News Tribune here and Colorado Springs Gazette here and here.

The News Tribune also sat in with the UMD student cheering section Friday, in light of a recent chant controversy, and has a story here.

Bruce Ciskie has a look at UMD after Friday’s win here.

At Omaha, the No. 6 Minnesota Gophers trailed after two periods but scored the final two goals of the game, the winner in ovetime, to beat Nebraska-Omaha 3-2 before 9,180 fans. Jayson Megna’s shorthanded score gave UNO a 2-1 lead in the second. Nick Bjugastad (23) tied the game for Minnesota at 4:17 of the third, and sophomore defenseman Jake Parenteau’s first career goal at 1:46 of OT was the game winner. Minnesota led in shots 32-24. Stories from the Omaha World-Herald here and Minneapolis Star Tribune here.

At Denver, No. 14 North Dakota scored the first four goals and then held off No. 9 Denver 4-3 before 6,119 fans. Carter Rowney (15) and Danny Kristo (on a penalty shot) helped North Dakota to a 4-0 lead before Denver rallied with three goals in the last six minutes, getting to within 4-3 as Jason Zucker (18) scored on a power play with 11 seconds to play. Sam Brittain started in goal for Denver and Adam Murray finished. North Dakota, 6-1-1 the last eight games, led in shots 35-29. Stories from the Denver Post here and Grand Forks Herald here.

At Houghton, Mich., St. Cloud State scored twice in the first period and twice in the third to beat Michigan Tech 5-2 before 2,938 fans. Jared Festler and Joey Holka had goals 58 seconds apart in the game’s first five minutes for St. Cloud to chase Michigan Tech starting goalie Josh Robinson. Tech led in shots 36-30. Since beating UMD on Jan. 28 at Amsoil Arena, Michigan Tech is 1-4-2. St. Cloud State, UMD’s opponent next weekend, is 4-1 the last five games, outscoring opponents 22-10. Game stories from the St. Cloud Times here and Houghton Daily Mining Gazette here.

At Bemidji, three second-period goals led Wisconsin to a 4-2 win over Bemidji State before 3,532 fans. Frankie Simonelli, Justin Schultz and Michael Mersch scored for the Badgers in the second period. Bemidji led in shots 30-26. Stories from the Bemidji Pioneer here and Wisconsin State Journal here.

At Anchorage, Alaska, in non-league play in inter-state competition, Brett Cameron had the game-winning goal midway through the second period as Alaska Anchorage beat Alaska Fairbanks 3-2 before 5,421 fans in the Governor’s Cup opener. Fairbanks led in shots 20-17. Stories from the Anchorage Daily News here and Fairbanks Daily News Miner here.

WCHA Standings Courtesy of CollegeHockeyStats.net

 1 Minnesota         36  25 18- 7- 0 .720  82- 50   34 22-11- 1 .662 124- 71
 2 Minnesota Duluth  34  25 15- 6- 4 .680  94- 66   33 21- 7- 5 .712 123- 85
 3 Denver            30  25 13- 8- 4 .600  85- 74   33 18-11- 4 .606 114- 91
 4 North Dakota      29  25 14-10- 1 .580  72- 66   32 18-11- 3 .609  98- 87
 5 Colorado College  27  25 13-11- 1 .540  86- 79   31 16-13- 2 .548 101- 90
   Nebraska Omaha    27  25 11- 9- 5 .540  79- 76   33 14-13- 6 .515 101- 96
 7 St. Cloud State   25  25 11-11- 3 .500  79- 67   33 14-15- 4 .485 105- 92
 8 Michigan Tech     24  25 10-11- 4 .480  80- 78   33 13-16- 4 .455  97-100
 9 Bemidji State     21  25  9-13- 3 .420  63- 80   33 15-15- 3 .500  88- 92
10 Wisconsin         20  25  9-14- 2 .400  67- 78   31 14-15- 2 .484  92- 91
11 Minnesota State   18  26  8-16- 2 .346  71- 95   34 12-20- 2 .382  95-115
12 Alaska Anchorage  11  26  5-20- 1 .212  55-104   31  9-20- 2 .323  75-115

Final: UMD 4, Colorado College 3, OT

Before the final faceoff of the night, Minnesota Duluth center Travis Oleksuk asked teammate J.T. Brown to move a little bit to his left in the offensive zone.

Oleksuk then proceeded to win a centering draw cleanly, straight back to Brown on the inside edge of the right circle and Brown leaned heavily into a shot. The puck beat Colorado College goalie Josh Thorimbert to the far side, past his blocker.

No. 4-ranked UMD defeated No. 16 Colorado College 4-3 with two minutes left in a five-minute overtime Friday night in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s game before 6,346 ecstatic fans at Amsoil Arena.

Brown, a sophomore winger, had missed last weekend’s series because of an upper-body injury, but returned to practice Tuesday. His 19th goal of the season, and 35th in 73 games at UMD, and the only shot on goal of sudden death, gave the Bulldogs their first overtime win of the season and kept them within two points of first-place Minnesota, which won 3-2 in overtime at Nebraska-Omaha. The Tigers remain in a three-way tie for fourth.

“You don’t feel the injury, you don’t even think about it,” said Brown. “The adrenaline kicks in and you don’t want to hold back. I’ve been feeling good all week.”

The Bulldogs (21-7-5 and 15-6-4 in WCHA) led 3-0 with a second-period barrage and then saw Colorado College (16-13-2 and 13-11-1) rally to force OT, helped by two third-period goals.

While the victory kept UMD in the hunt for the MacNaughton Cup, symbolic of the league regular-season championship, the loss dimmed Colorado College’s quest for home ice for the league playoffs with three games left.

“We don’t have anything to hang our heads about,” said Colorado College coach Scott Owens. “UMD’s a good team that can beat you any number of ways. A tie probably would’ve been the outcome which best reflected the game.”

After nothing to report on the scoreboard for half the game, the teams combined for four goals in the last 10 minutes of the second period. UMD raced ahead with two goals in 2:40 and three in 4:35. The first two came on UMD’s first two power plays.

Jack Connolly connected from the lower half of the right circle with 9:51 left in the period, knocking the puck off a falling Thorimbert, who leads the WCHA with a .924 save percentage for all games. Caleb Herbert blasted a shot while along the far left boards with 7:11 to go and fellow freshman Justin Crandall made it a three-goal cushion with 5:16 left.

Max Tardy smacked a shot off the end boards and it caromed to the left edge of the Colorado College crease. Crandall, a right-handed shot, caught the puck on his backhand and then made a spin-o-rama move to get it on his forehand, and nudged a shot inside the near post.

“Our team has been composed most of the season. Even though (the Tigers) came back, that didn’t bug us,” said Crandall. “We played well at the end of the third period and in overtime (helped by a power play). The win is a testament to how calm we stayed. We got two points.”

The Tigers, in their Amsoil Arena debut, scored with 23.9 seconds left in the second period on an Alexander Krushelnyski rush at the crease. And defenseman Mike Boivin and scoring leader Rylan Schwartz connected for goals 72 seconds apart midway through the third period to get the Tigers even. UMD goalie Kenny Reiter said he didn’t see the puck in either third-period score.

Colorado College defenseman Arthur Bidwell was called for interfering with Herbert 18 seconds into overtime, but the Tigers blocked a number of ensuing power-play shots and had a good shorthanded chance when intercepting a Reiter clearing pass.

Then it came down to Oleksuk repositioning Brown for a faceoff and the top-scoring team in Division I cashed in. For the game UMD was 45-33 in winning faceoffs, including Oleksuk at 21-9. He earned his second assist of the game and 108 career points in 126 games, making UMD 1-1-5 in OT this season and 11-5-1 at home. Of Colorado College’s 13 losses, 11 have been by one or two goals.

“(The Tigers) are a good team that can get up-and-down the ice and they came after us in the third period, and really got pucks to the net,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “Overall it was pretty even, but we played really well in the second period and good in overtime, and got a good character win.”

Colorado College…………. 0-1-2-0—3

Minnesota Duluth………… 0-3-0-1—4

First period — No scoring. Penalties — None.

Second period —1. UMD, Jack Connolly 18 (Travis Oleksuk, Brady Lamb), 10:09 (pp); 2. UMD, Caleb Herbert 11 (Chris Casto, Max Tardy), 12:49 (pp); 3. UMD, Justin Crandall 6 (Casto, Tardy), 14:44; 4. Colorado College, Alexander Krushelnyski 10 (Tim Hall, Scott Winkler), 19:36. Penalties — David Grun, UMD (interference0, :39; Eamonn McDermott, Colorado College (high-sticking), 9:08; Grun, UMD (roughing), 9:08; Jaden Schwartz, Colorado College (slashing), 9:50; Joe Marciano, Colorado College (interference), 11:04; Jake Hendrickson, UMD (holding), 15:24.

Third period — 5. Colorado College, Michael Boivin 7 (Nick Dineen, Jaden Schwartz), 7:48 (pp); 6. Colorado College, Rylan Schwartz 21 (J. Schwartz, Gabe Guentzel), 9:00. Penalties — Boivin, Colorado College (holding), 2:19; Dineen, Colorado College (tripping), 4:00; Chris Casto, UMD (tripping), 7:08; Joe Basaraba, UMD (hooking), 9:00.

Overtime — 7. UMD, J.T. Brown 19 (Oleksuk), 3:00. Penalty — Arthur Bidwell, Colorado College (interference), :18.

Shots on goal — Colorado College 11-5-9-0—25, UMD 8-19-13-1—41. Goalies — Josh Thorimbert (11-6-1), Colorado College (41 shots-37 saves); Kenny Reiter (19-6-5), UMD (25 shots-22 saves). Power plays — Colorado College 1-of-4, UMD 2-of-5. Referees —Scott Bokal, Craig Welker. Linesmen — Jeff Schultz, Tony Czech.  A —6,346.

Women’s final: UMD 4, Ohio State 3

Sophomore right winger Jamie Kenyon had a pair of goals Friday afternoon to lead Minnesota Duluth to a 4-3 victory over Ohio State in the opening game of a best-of-three Western Collegiate Hockey Association women’s playoff series before 888 fans at Amsoil Arena.

The Bulldogs (19-13-1) can clinch the series in today’s 3:37 p.m. game. UMD has a three-game win streak and is 7-2 the last nine games.

The Buckeyes (16-15-4) never led and are 2-6 the last eight games, all against the top four teams in the WCHA. The Bulldogs hold a 3-2 edge in games against Ohio State this season.

UMD was outshot 37-23 for the game and 16-8 in the first period. Yet Kenyon, from Sparta, Wis., scored a shorthanded unassisted goal 5:52 into the game for a 1-0 lead and put the Bulldogs up 3-2 on a power play with 9:09 left in the second period.

Also with early-period goals were UMD center Haley Irwin, 53 seconds into the second, and Jenna McParland, 2:30 into the third. Irwin, a senior center, has 50 points in 31 games this season to lead UMD and 202 in 131 career games. McParland, a freshman, has 20 goals, leading WCHA rookies in goal scoring.

UMD had to withstand another stellar performance from Ohio State senior center Natalie Spooner, who had two goals, including one with 2:37 to play to get the Buckeyes within 4-3. She has 31 goals this season and 100 in 127 career games.

UMD junior winger Audrey Cournoyer had a pair of assists, and junior defenseman Jessica Wong one as both reached 99 career points.

Senior goalie Jennifer Harss made 34 saves in gaining her 55th career victory, the third-most in UMD women’s history.

Ohio State……………………… 1-1-1—3

Minnesota Duluth……………. 1-2-1—4

First period — 1. UMD, Jamie Kenyon 5, 5:52 (sh); 2. Ohio State, Laura McIntosh 12 (Sara Schmitt), 8:37. Penalties — Brigette Lacquette, UMD (checking), 4:35; Haley Irwin, UMD (hooking), 10:16; Paige Semenza, Ohio State (interference), 12:50; Semenza, Ohio State (tripping), 19:00.

Second period — 3. UMD, Haley Irwin 14 (Audrey Cournoyer), :53; 4. Ohio State, Natalie Spooner 30 (McIntosh, Kelly Wild), 1:51 (pp); 5. UMD, Kenyon 11 (Brienna Gillanders, Lacquette), 10:51 (pp).  Penalties — Tea Villila, UMD (checking), :19; Ally Tarr, Ohio State (roughing), 5:44; Lacquette, UMD (roughing), 5:44; Spooner, Ohio State (slashing), 10:25.

Third period — 6. UMD, Jenna McParland 20 (Jessica Wong, Cournoyer), 2:30; 7. Ohio State, Spooner 31 (Hokey Langan, Kari Schmitt), 17:23 (pp. Penalties — K. Schmitt, Ohio State (checking), 4:44; McIntosh, Ohio State (checking), 5:57; Lacquette, UMD (holding), 9:49; Kacy Ambroz, UMD (interference), 14:58; Vanessa Thibault, UMD (high-sticking), 16:10.

Shots on goal — Ohio State  16-8-13—37, UMD  8-11-4—23. Goalies — Lisa Steffes (12-11-1), Ohio State (23 shots-19 saves); Jennifer Harss (18-13-1), UMD (37 shots-34 saves). Power plays — Ohio State 2-of-6, UMD 1-of-5. Referees — Dan Lick, Jay Mendel. Linesmen — Sara Anderson, Alicia Hanrahan.  A — 888.

Game Day: No. 16 Colorado College at No. 4 Minnesota Duluth

After a longer travel day than planned Thursday, the No. 16-ranked Colorado College Tigers (16-12-2) got through some flight delays and some snow to get to Duluth for a WCHA series with No. 4 Minnesota Duluth (20-7-5). Games are 7:07 p.m. Friday and 7:37 p.m. Saturday (94.1 FM and My9). Some tickets remain for each night.

News Tribune live blogs: Friday here and Saturday here.

It appears that UMD winger J.T. Brown will return to the lineup Friday after an upper-body injury kept out of last weekend’s series at Minnesota State-Mankato, according to the UMD sports information office. The News Tribune features Thunder Bay, Ontario, senior centers Travis Oleksuk and Haley Irwin in a story here and has some game notes here and here.

The UMD women open a best-of-three WCHA first-round playoff series at home against Ohio State with Amsoil Arena games at 3:07 p.m. Friday, 3:37 p.m. Saturday and 3:07 p.m. Sunday, if needed.

The News Tribune also has updates on Charter Cable in Duluth and its association with My9 (which carries UMD men’s home hockey games) here and UMD’s student cheering section at Amsoil Arena which is looking to improve its image here.

Bruce Ciskie looks at the Bulldogs with four games left in the regular season here.

Blogger and hockey knowledgeable Joe Paisley of Colorado Springs also has college hockey notes here.

A brief public service announcement, from UMD senior Jack Connolly, on good fan behavior will run on the Amsoil Arena video screen this weekend. The clip is here.

Brian Gomez of the Colorado Springs Gazette is in Duluth for the men’s series and has tons of news and updates on the fourth-place Tigers in stories here and here.

Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald has his weekly walk through the WCHA, and all things North Dakota, in a posting here.

If you’re looking for WCHA series predictions take a look at U.S. College Hockey Online here and Roman Augustoviz of the Minneapolis Star Tribune here.

From Inside College Hockey is a WCHA notebook by Jess Myers here and a version of NCAA Bracketology here.

Dan Myers of College Hockey News starts to breakdown possible WCHA playoff matchups for March 9-11 in a posting here and here.

USCHO also makes some predictions in Division III men’s conference playoffs, including Wisconsin-Stevens Point at St. Scholastica in Saturday’s NCHA semifinals, in a post here.

Chris Peters of the United States of Hockey spoke with Paul Kelly, who resigned this week as head of College Hockey Inc., to explain his side of the story here.