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UMD Men’s Hockey: Bulldogs Try To Put Ahead of Losses with Colorado College on Thursday

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It’s a season-opening NCHC Pod make-up game in Omaha, Nebraska, in which the Tigers arrived a week late due to a positive COVID-19 test result within their schedule. The Tigers will also visit St. Cloud State on Saturday for a second Pod makeup contest.

After 4-0 and 4-1 defeats last weekend in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said his team is happy to play on Thursday rather than being on time. That would have made for a miserable two weeks before the regular February 26-27 season finale against St. Cloud State.

There are many unhappy people. Guys are, frankly, PD, Sandelin said. They are disappointed on the weekend. We had a good meeting on Monday and our boys had some good days. It’s nice that we have a faster turnaround to be able to play again. So watch what happens.

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Colorado College handed an exhausted Bulldogs team its first defeat at Omaha, 4-1, on December 13 in the only real meeting to date this season. The Bulldogs, who started 5-0-1, played their third game in four days and fifth game in eight days, needing a goal in the last 64 seconds from second striker Luke Loheit to avoid the shutout.

Tiger’s junior forward Grant Cruikshank scored two goals late in the first period that day, one on the power play and the other short-handed that day, then assisted the goal that made it 3-0 1:16 in the second period.

Cruikshank missed six games for the Tigers in January and returned to Omaha last weekend to score two goals in the series final on Saturday. The Tigers lost all six of their games without Cruikshank and came to Minnesota this weekend on a nine-game lost streak after being swept 7-1 and 3-2 in Omaha last week.

They have some guys who are dangerous players, Sandelin said. It will be a difficult, difficult game, a tough challenge. They also put pressure on the whole track and they make sure to play with speed.

They are a good hockey team, just like everyone else in our league. We have to be ready from the start and tomorrow night we have to play a really good hockey game to win.

The loss to Colorado College in the Pod was the start of a seven-game slump for the Bulldogs, which went from 1-5-1 from December 13 through January 9. UMD then secured six consecutive victories against Western Michigan and Miami to briefly lead the NCHC before being swept to third place last weekend in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Including Thursday’s game with the Tigers, the Bulldogs have only three games left on the regular 2020-21 season schedule. After the home-and-home series with the Huskies February 26 in St. Cloud and February 27 in Duluth, it’s straight to the single-elimination NCHC Frozen Faceoff March 12-16 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where depending on who you are questions UMD may or may not require the automatic bidding of the leagues to reach the NCAA tournament.

Junior wing Cole Koepke who recorded the only UMD goal last weekend with two minutes to go on Saturday to avoid back-to-back shutouts, said Saturday after the loss in Kalamazoo that UMD cannot take anything for granted at this point.

At this time of the year, you can go two ways. You can fall apart or come together as a team and learn from this and realize we need to come out every night, Koepke said. We need to get together and be ready for things like this, especially at this time of year. We have three more games and then it’s either win or go home.

Colorado College forward Patrick Cozzi (10), Minnesota Duluth defender Wyatt Kaiser (5) and forward Kobe Roth (10) compete for the second period puck on Sunday, December 13 at Baxter Arena at the NCHC Pod in Omaha.  (Tyler Schank / 2020 file / tschank@duluthnews.com)

Colorado College forward Patrick Cozzi (10), Minnesota Duluth defender Wyatt Kaiser (5) and forward Kobe Roth (10) compete for the second period puck on Sunday, December 13 at Baxter Arena at the NCHC Pod in Omaha. (Tyler Schank / 2020 file / [email protected])

Colorado College in Minnesota Duluth

6:07 PM Thursday

At Amsoil Arena in Duluth

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