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Omaha Sweeps Union, Denver Blanks Air Force and UMD Wins Ledyard Classic to Close 2017

By NCHC, 12/30/17, 11:45PM EST


CC edges Merrimack late; Bulldogs, Huskies earn ties out east as NCHC goes 3-0-2 on Saturday

Saturday, December 30, 2017 Scores
No. 2/2 Denver 6, Air Force 0
Omaha 5, No. 19 Union 3
Colorado College 2, Merrimack 1
No. 1/1 St. Cloud State 2, Princeton 2 (OT)
No. 17 Minnesota Duluth 2, Dartmouth 2 (OT – UMD wins shootout)
No. 6/6 North Dakota 5, U.S. U-18 National Team 2 (exhibition)
Miami 8, Windsor 2 (exhibition)

On the final night of play in 2017, National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) teams closed out the year with a bang as one team completed a sweep, another pitched a shutout, while a third won a tournament, as NCHC teams combined to go 3-0-2 in non-conference play Saturday, while both NCHC teams won their exhibition contests as well. For the second straight night, Omaha put up five goals as the Mavericks downed No. 19 Union, 5-3, to complete a weekend sweep at Baxter Arena. Rebounding from a tough loss Friday, No. 2/2 Denver erupted in the second period and shut out Air Force in a 6-0 victory, while down the road, Colorado College avenged a loss to Air Force on Friday by edging Merrimack, 2-1, with a late goal from Tanner Ockey. Despite missing six skaters for various reasons, No. 17 Minnesota Duluth gutted out a 2-2 overtime tie at Dartmouth and then won a shootout with the host Big Green to win the Ledyard Classic championship. Top-ranked St. Cloud State also tied an ECAC Hockey foe, settling for a 2-2 overtime tie at Princeton as the Huskies and Tigers tied for a second straight night. In exhibition play, Miami rolled to an 8-2 win over Windsor while No. 6/6 North Dakota topped the U.S. U-18 National Team, 5-2.

A four-goal second period lifted Omaha to a 5-3 win over No. 19 Union Saturday night at Baxter Arena to complete a weekend sweep.  The Dutchmen (10-10-1) opened the scoring on the power play with only five ticks left in the first frame as Ryan Walker tallied the first of his two goals in the game. The Mavericks (9-8-1) stormed back in the second, however, scoring power play goals a minute apart midway through the middle period to take the lead for good. Senior Luke Nogard, who assisted on UNO’s second goal, made it 3-1 a few minutes later, while junior forward Riley Alferd notched his first goal of the year with 2:12 left in the stanza, which turned out to be the game-winner,  to cap the second-period outburst. Union got one back late in the third period to get within two, but an empty-netter from senior David Pope, who also had a two-point night, sealed the victory. Despite the loss, Union outshot Omaha, 35-32, but sophomore Kris Oldham made 32 saves in net to earn the win for UNO. The Mavericks resume NCHC play at No. 6/6 North Dakota next weekend.

One night after dropping its second straight game, No. 2/2 Denver took out its frustration on in-state foe Air Force, blanking the Falcons, 6-0, Saturday at Magness Arena.  Sophomore forward Liam Finlay opened the scoring 6:14 into the game, but it was a three-minute stretch in the second period that doomed the Falcons (8-9-3). Junior forward Jarid Lukosevicius, who also had two assists in the game, started the outburst with a power play goal, while 1:10 later freshman forward Jaakko Heikkinen, who also finished with a three-point game, also struck on the power play to make it 3-0 with an assist from Lukosevicius. Junior forward Logan O’Connor scored only 21 seconds after Heikkinen, while O’Connor then set up freshman forward Ryan Barrow for his first career goal less than a minute after that to make it 5-0. Senior forward Rudy Junda tallied his first career goal in the third to cap the scoring. Senior goalie Tanner Jaillet made 15 saves to earn the win in net, as Denver (11-5-4) outshot the Falcons, 46-18. DU also finished 3-for-11 on the power play. The Pioneers return to conference play at Miami next weekend.

A late goal from junior forward Tanner Ockey lifted Colorado College to a 2-1 win over Merrimack Saturday night at the Broadmoor World Arena. After a scoreless first frame, sophomore forward Nick Halloran stretched his goal-scoring streak to four games when he finished a feed from junior forward Mason Bergh with 2:55 left in the middle period to put the Tigers (9-8-3) in front. Logan Coomes pulled the Warriors (5-10-4) level midway through the final frame, but Ockey potted a rebound with 1:05 left in regulation to give CC the victory. The Tigers outshot Merrimack, 27-22, in the win, despite going 0-for-6 on the power play. Sophomore Alex Leclerc made 21 saves in net for CC. Colorado College is idle until hosting No. 17 Minnesota Duluth Jan. 12-13.

Despite only managing a tie against host Dartmouth, No. 17 Minnesota Duluth won the Ledyard Classic in a shootout Saturday night at Thompson Arena after drawing with the Big Green, 2-2. Dartmouth (4-8-2) got on the board only 24 ticks into the game, but the Bulldogs (9-9-3) pulled even with only 28 ticks left in the first frame when junior forward Billy Exell potted his first goal of the year. Junior forward Peter Krieger then put UMD in front in the second stanza, but Shane Sellar answered for the Big Green less than three minutes later. Neither team tallied in the final frame or overtime, despite a 5-1 edge in shots for UMD in the extra session, as the game ended in a tie. However, because it was the championship game, the teams then held a three-man shootout with Krieger and freshman Kobe Roth scoring and sophomore Hunter Shepard making two saves to win the shootout and tournament title. Dartmouth held a slight, 43-41 edge in shots, but Shepard made a career-high 41 saves in the tie and was named MVP of the Ledyard Classic. Minnesota Duluth is off next week before heading to Colorado College to resume NCHC play Jan. 12-13.

For the second straight night, top-ranked St. Cloud State needed a third-period rally to earn a tie at Princeton, as the Huskies salvaged a 2-2 overtime tie Saturday at Hobey Baker Rink. After a scoreless first frame filled with penalties, senior forward Judd Peterson put SCSU (12-2-3) in front with his second goal of the year in the second stanza, but late in the middle period Jake Paganelli pulled the Tigers (6-7-3) even. Princeton then grabbed the lead on a power play goal 30 ticks into the third period, but junior forward Jacob Benson was able to tie the game, tucking in a rebound also on the power play with less than eight minutes to go in regulation. The Tigers earned a power play in the overtime but SCSU was able to kill it and skate away with the tie. SCSU finished with a 45-42 advantage in shots on goal, while junior Jeff Smith stopped 40 shots in net for the Huskies and Ryan Ferland made 43 for PU. St. Cloud State remains out of conference next weekend when the play a home-and-home series with rival No. 10/10 Minnesota.

In exhibition action, seven RedHawks found the back of the net as Miami rolled to an 8-2 win over Windsor Saturday night at Steve Cady Arena to start its second half of the season. The RedHawks (8-8-2) scored three goals in the first period, including two in the first five minutes, with junior forward Josh Melnick assisting on the latter two. Miami then tacked on two more tallies in the second period from freshmen forward Phil Knies and Christian Mohs. Fellow rookie Ben Lown made it 6-0 early in the third period while Melnick struck two minutes later to make it 7-0 before the Lancers got on the board. Melnick capped the scoring as well with his second goal of the night, both assisted by sophomore Gordie Green, as Melnick had a four-point game. Knies, Lown and sophomore forward Karch Bachman each had two points in the win on a goal and an assist. Miami outshot Windsor, 41-13. The RedHawks return to NCHC play next weekend, hosting No. 2/2 Denver.

Behind a big first period, No. 6/6 North Dakota cruised to a 5-2 exhibition win over the U.S. U-18 National Team Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Sophomore forward Cole Smith opened the scoring only 2:23 into the game, while senior forward Austin Poganski and freshman defenseman Matt Kiersted added goals in the first frame to make it 3-0 before the U-18s got on the board. Freshman forward Jordan Kawaguchi tacked on a power play goal early in the second stanza to make it 4-1, while an empty netter from junior forward Shane Gersich sealed the victory. UND (10-5-5) outshot the U-18s, 35-30, in the win. North Dakota resumes NCHC play next weekend when it hosts Omaha.

Next weekend, only five NCHC teams are in action with four teams resuming conference play. Miami hosts No. 2/2 Denver on Friday and Saturday, while sixth-ranked North Dakota welcomes Omaha for two games. In non-conference play, top-ranked St. Cloud State faces in-state rival No. 10/10 Minnesota Saturday and Sunday with Saturday’s game in St. Cloud and Sunday in Minneapolis. On Friday, the UNO at UND game kicks off the NCHC’s coverage on CBS Sports Network, while Saturday’s Gophers at Huskies game is also on CBS Sports Network. Sunday’s SCSU at Minnesota game is on FOX Sports North. Three of the games next weekend can be seen on