College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.
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No. 3 Minnesota Duluth (21-16-3) vs. No. 2 Minnesota State-Mankato (29-9-1) What: 2018 NCAA West Regional semifinal When: Friday, March 23, 6:30 p.m. Where: Sioux Falls, S.D. All-time series: UMD leads 28-19-6 Coaches: Scott Sandelin, in his 18th season at UMD, is 336-300-85; Mike Hasting, in his sixth season at Minnesota State-Mankato, is 151-71-19. TV: None Radio: KDAL-AM 610/KDAL-FM 103.9 Internet: KDAL610.com (audio); watchespn.com (video) Twitter: @mattwellens
DULUTH, Minn.—Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin often talks about "the process" his teams go through each and every college hockey season, and in 2017-18 he has 10 freshmen who are going through everything for the first time. The various ups and downs of a 34-to-36-game regular season are the first few steps of the process, as is playing in a first-round conference playoff series. Sandelin considered last weekend's NCHC Frozen Faceoff a major step in the process for his Bulldogs, even if the results didn't go the program's way.
DULUTH—Minnesota Duluth senior wing Blake Young called the bus ride from St. Paul to Duluth on Saturday, March 18, the longest of his life. The Bulldogs had just lost to North Dakota, leaving their NCAA tournament fate in the hands of others, and, initially, UMD couldn't catch a break. Nothing was going the Bulldogs' way. "You almost didn't want to check the scores, but you couldn't help yourself," Young said. "As each team that we needed to win kept losing, you kind of lost hope for a little bit there."
ST. PAUL — While the sun-soaked St. Patrick's Day offered welcome warmth, a perfect Pairwise storm beared down further on the Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team. The sky grew a deep, dark blue. The wind began to pick up. A few raindrops even began to fall late into the evening. Once the regular season was officially all said and done, though, the twister never came to sweep UMD away.
DULUTH—The University of Minnesota Duluth heads into this weekend's NCHC Frozen Faceoff in a great position to do something no other UMD team has ever done: qualify for four straight NCAA tournaments. But a trip to the 2018 Big Ice Dance is by no means a lock yet. The third-seeded Bulldogs take on second-seeded University of Denver in the late semifinal of the Frozen Faceoff at 7:38 p.m. Friday, March 16, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The first semifinal features top-seeded St. Cloud State University and fourth-seeded University of North Dakota.
DULUTH — After watching his team win the past three games against Western Michigan by a combined score of 19-1, Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin finally got the tight, intense and physical game he'd been expecting all along against the Broncos on Saturday, March 10. As for Western, it finally got a decent performance out of its goaltender. The result was still the same, however, as the third-seeded Bulldogs pulled out a 2-0 victory over the sixth-seeded Broncos in front of 4,391 fans at Amsoil Arena to sweep the best-of-three NCHC quarterfinal series.
DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth destroyed Western Michigan 8-0 and 6-1 in a pair of games played just two weeks ago in Kalamazoo, Mich., but Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin insisted earlier this week the NCHC playoff series at Amsoil Arena would be different. This weekend's games would be "much, much tighter." They would be "much more intense." They would be "tight games, physical games," the coach said.
DULUTH, Minn.—When Nick McCormack arrived on the Minnesota Duluth campus in the fall of 2014, he was part of a six-member freshman class, but the only rookie defenseman for UMD that season. Four years later, the 24-year-old McCormack is now the only senior on the Bulldogs' blue line, surrounded by five freshmen and two sophomores who are all three years or more younger than him.
DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin should be expecting a thank you basket this week from his alma mater, North Dakota. That's because the seventh-ranked Bulldogs capped the regular season with a 4-1 victory over No. 14 Nebraska-Omaha in NCHC play Saturday, March 3, before a crowd of 5,160 at Amsoil Arena to send the Mavericks packing for Grand Forks in the first round of next week's league playoffs.
DULUTH—Hermantown, Minn., native Jared Thomas and Duluth native Jake Randolph grew up as fans of the University of Minnesota Duluth and made their college commitments just days apart in January 2012. Thomas decided to stay close to home and play for the Bulldogs. Randolph chose to go, following his gut 530-plus miles to the University of Nebraska Omaha. Neither has looked back to wonder, "What if?" "I wouldn't regret anything about the decision," Randolph said. "I wouldn't do it any other way," Thomas said.