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College men's hockey: Pioneers rally to finish sweep of Bulldogs

DENVER—After combining to score five goals in their first three meetings this season, Minnesota Duluth and Denver launched what this series considers an offensive explosion.

In the final regular-season meeting between last year's national championship combatants, the fourth-ranked Pioneers prevailed 4-3 over the ninth-ranked Bulldogs to finish off a season sweep Saturday night, Feb. 3.

Junior wing Dylan Gambrell scored the game-winning goal with 10:51 remaining in regulation as the league-leading Pioneers extended their unbeaten streak to seven games (5-0-2).

The Bulldogs, who have lost three straight and four of their last five, fell into a tie for fourth with North Dakota in the NCHC standings after Western Michigan took sole possession of third via a 3-2 win at Miami. North Dakota was idle this weekend. The Bulldogs are off next weekend before returning to NCHC play Feb. 16-17 against Miami at Amsoil Arena.

The Pioneers (16-6-6 overall, 10-4-4 NCHC), who lead second-place St. Cloud State by three points in the standings, scored twice in the second period to force a 3-3 tie going into the third.

Denver freshman wing Ryan Barrow tied the game at 2-2 seven seconds short of the second's five-minute mark with a shot to the far post after a Bulldogs turnover at their defensive blue line. Junior wing Jarid Lukosevicius, whose second-period hat trick turned the tide Denver's way in the NCAA title game last April, tied the game again with under three minutes to go in the second, finishing an onslaught on the doorstep of UMD sophomore goalie Hunter Shepard.

Sophomore wing Riley Tufte gave the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead just over nine minutes into the second on a breakaway down the left boards that was sprung by freshman defenseman Louie Roehl. Tufte sniped his short just inside the near post for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.

The Bulldogs (14-13-3, 8-10) built a 2-1 lead in the first period thanks to goals from freshmen Scott Perunovich and Kobe Roth.

Perunovich, a defenseman from Hibbing, tied the game just past the midway point of the first by putting a move on a defenseman before sniping a shot top shelf, popping the water bottle of Pioneers senior goaltender Tanner Jaillet. It was Perunovich's seventh goal of the season and team-leading 25th point in 28 games.

Roth gave the Bulldogs — who came into the night 0-3 against Denver having lost 1-0, 2-1 and 1-0 this season — their first lead of the season against Denver by deflecting a shot by freshman defenseman Mikey Anderson through the five-hole of Jaillet.

Prior to Saturday, Jaillet had not given up a goal at Magness Arena since the calendar flipped to 2018.

Denver junior wing Logan O'Connor scored shorthanded in the opening five minutes to put the Bulldogs down 1-0. O'Connor held the puck on a two-on-one breakaway and tucked the puck into the top left corner to beat Shepard stick side.

O'Connor's short-handed goal came during a penalty-filled opening five minutes that saw three infractions — two on Denver, one on UMD — resulting in just 1:08 of even-strength time in the opening 7:08 of the game.

Minn. Duluth 2-1-0—3

Denver 1-2-1—4

First period — 1. DU, Logan O'Connor 2, 4:22 (sh); 2. UMD, Scott Perunovich 7 (Billy Exell, Jade Miller), 10:26; 3. UMD, Kobe Roth 4 (Mikey Anderson, Miller), 18:04. Penalties — Nick Wolff, UMD (boarding), 0:26; Ian Mitchell, DU (interference), 2:36; Blake Hillman, DU (boarding), 5:08; Miller, UMD (high sticking), 11:03.

Second period — 4. DU, Ryan Barrow 2 (Jake Durflinger), 4:53; 5. UMD, Riley Tufte 13 (Louie Roehl), 9:10; 6. DU, Jarid Lukosevicius 13 (Dylan Gambrell, Michael Davies), 17:40. Penalties — Wolff, UMD (slashing), 9:47; Kohen Olischenfski, DU (interference), 10:30.

Third period — 7. DU, Dylan Gambrell 11 (Troy Terry, Adam Plant), 9:09. Penalties — Wolff, UMD (slashing), 18:36.

Shots on goal — UMD 10-11-14—35; DU 14-17-13—44. Goalies — Hunter Shepard, UMD (44 shots-40 saves); Tanner Jaillet, DU (35-32). Power plays — UMD 0-of-3; DU 0-of-4. Referees — Ryan Hersey, Tom Sterns. Linesmen — John Grandt, Jon Shaw. Att. — 6,200.

Matt Wellens

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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