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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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.
DULUTH—The University of Minnesota Duluth will not only bring Frozen Four experience next week to Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, but NCAA title game experience as well. However, as Bulldogs Coach Scott Sandelin reminded the media Tuesday, March 27, during a pre-tournament conference call, the Frozen Four will be a first for plenty of his players. UMD is bringing back 16 from last year's squad that beat Harvard in the national semifinals before losing to the University of Denver in the championship at United Center in Chicago.
DULUTH—University of Minnesota Duluth sophomore defenseman Nick Wolff came down with a brief bout of amnesia on Saturday night, March 24, in Sioux Falls, S.D., after his Bulldogs topped Air Force 2-1 for the NCAA West Regional championship. Sitting at the podium addressing the media, Wolff was asked to share his thoughts on playing a Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The former Eagan Wildcats standout immediately referenced the Minnesota state tournament, which he played in as a senior in 2014.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A week after seeing their season nearly come to an end at Xcel Energy Center, the Bulldogs are heading back to St. Paul. Minnesota Duluth secured a second consecutive berth in the NCAA Frozen Four on Saturday night by holding on for dear life in a 2-1 victory over cinderella Air Force in the NCAA West Regional final at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Over the past three seasons, overtime and Minnesota Duluth at NCAA regionals have gone together like turkey and stuffing at a Thanksgiving dinner. And just like those Thanksgiving staples, the pairings continue to taste as delicious as ever.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The host didn't receive an invite to its own party. The University of North Dakota failed to qualify for the 2018 NCAA West Regional, but three of its Minnesota neighbors — and their crazy uncle who now lives in Colorado Springs — are here at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. Top-seeded St. Cloud State takes on fourth-seeded Air Force at 3 p.m. Friday, March 23, in the first regional semifinal, with third-seeded Minnesota Duluth taking on second-seeded Minnesota State-Mankato in the second semifinal at 6:30 p.m.
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.