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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ST. PAUL — For Minnesota Duluth, X marks the spot. Again. The Bulldogs won their second national championship on Saturday night on the same ice they won their first title back in 2011, beating Notre Dame 2-1 in the final of the 2018 NCAA Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center before a raucous pro-UMD crowd of 18,303. Just 365 days ago, UMD lost in the national championship game, 3-2 to Denver, at United Center in Chicago. As painful as that day was for players such as Karson Kuhlman and Jared Thomas, both said they'd gladly re-live it.
ST. PAUL — At the beginning of the season, statistical workers in the Amsoil Arena press box took guesses at how many goals Minnesota Duluth senior center Jared Thomas would score in 2017-18. The most any one of them was willing to give Thomas was six. The low was two.
ST. PAUL — No one frowns on gambling quite like the NCAA. So when Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said Wednesday during a pre-Frozen Four news conference, "I'll take my chances" against a Minnesota Duluth squad his Buckeyes could have eliminated weeks ago, Rohlik should have known better. We all should have known better. The Bulldogs continue to prove their doubters wrong and make those who gamble against the program look ridiculous, this time with a 2-1 victory over Ohio State on Thursday night in an NCAA Frozen Four semifinal at Xcel Energy Center.
ST. PAUL — Making their first NCAA tournament appearance in eight years, Ohio State was poised to pull a major upset last year in Fargo. The fourth-seeded Buckeyes had rallied in the third period from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime against Minnesota Duluth, which was not only the West Regional's top seed, but the second overall seed in the 16-team NCAA field.
DULUTH, Minn.—For Hermantown native Dylan Samberg, the 2018 World Junior Championship tournament in Buffalo, N.Y., was a turning point in his first season at Minnesota Duluth. Until then, the Bulldogs freshman defenseman was experiencing an up-and-down season one might expect from a player who was making the jump straight from high school to college. He had just four assists and a minus-5 rating in his first 19 games.
DULUTH—Minnesota Duluth assistant coach Brett Larson doesn't need to have his eyes on the ice to know when senior captain Karson Kuhlman has hit the turbo button. All he has to do is take a look down at the Bulldogs bench. "You can see it when it's happening for sure and what you can see is the body language on the bench," Larson said. "You can see the shoulders come up, the heads come up and I'll tell you what. If I'm a guy on the bench and I see my captain playing that way, there's no excuse for me to go out there and give anything less."
DULUTH, Minn.—Minnesota Duluth sophomore goaltender Hunter Shepard has put together a stellar season in 2017-18, his first as the Bulldogs starter. But in the moments following a second consecutive NCAA West Regional title, the Cohasset, Minn., native was kicking himself for the one goal he let in that night, a fluke puck that bounced in off his skate. "The last couple months I've only had to make 3-4 decent saves," Shepard said. "Personally the last two weekends, I haven't been my best."
DULUTH — Despite appearing in all 42 games this season for Minnesota Duluth, freshman center Justin Richards is still searching for his first collegiate goal going into this week's NCAA Frozen Four. That's right, the centerman UMD brought in after losing Adam Johnson and his 18 goals to the Pittsburgh Penguins has yet to put the puck into the back of the net this year. Instead, Richards has done everything else for the Bulldogs, which is why his coaches and teammates can't stop raving about his rookie season.
DULUTH — In the months following Minnesota Duluth and Denver's 2017 national championship battle at United Center in Chicago, the programs went in dramatically different directions. The Bulldogs underwent a huge transformation in the offseason, graduating seven seniors and losing three more players early to the NHL. Five of those 10 departures were on the blue line and a sixth was in goal.
DULUTH, Minn.—In its first four seasons of existence, the Big Ten hockey conference was often the butt of jokes come NCAA tournament time. Not anymore. After getting one team out of the regional rounds in its first four seasons, the Big Ten accounts for three-fourths of this year's NCAA Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. No. 1 Ohio State (26-9-5) takes on No. 3 Minnesota Duluth (23-16-3) at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in the first national semifinal, with No. 1 Notre Dame (27-9-2) and No. 2 Michigan (22-14-3) meeting in the second semifinal at 8:30 p.m.