This is the first of five series the Bulldogs will play over the next eight weeks against teams currently ranked in the top 10 in national polls. and rankings in pairs – with a trip to St. Cloud State on the bridge next week to restart the NCHC game.
âIt will be a lot like the teams we play in our league. It’s going to be a challenge for two nights, we’re looking forward to it, âsaid UMD coach Scott Sandelin. âI think our guys are excited to play a team like this right now.
âWhen you see them and who we have next weekend to come back to the league with St Cloud, it’s kind of like the start of the year, right? Nothing could be simpler, two very good teams to start the new year well. It will be a challenge.
The Bulldogs recently took post-Christmas trips to Thunder Bay, Ont., For shows against Lakehead University (2014-15); in Hanover, New Hampshire for the Ledyard Bank Classic in Dartmouth (2017-18); in Phoenix for the Arizona State Desert Hockey Classic (2018-19); and in North Andover, Massachusetts, for a series in Merrimack (2019-20).
The COVID-19 pandemic has kept the Bulldogs closer to home over the past two seasons, as they resumed the NCHC game against the Huskies over New Years weekend last season and are now ready for an in-state battle with the Mavericks.
As fun as the trips may be, Bulldogs fifth-year senior defenseman Matt Anderson said the team are delighted to be staying close to home this year, given the opposition.
âDartmouth was a really, really cool place. It was kind of like Hogwarts, almost, but it’s good to be home for sure, âAnderson said. âIt’s going to be fun playing against Mankato, the country’s No.1 team. We are always looking forward to facing a team like this.
Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin chats with his team against Michigan during the Ice Breaker tournament on Friday, October 15, 2021 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. Clint Austin / Dossier / Duluth News Tribune
Sandelin family reunion
This week’s Bulldogs-Mavericks series marks the second time in three seasons that Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin will face his son, Mavericks junior forward Ryan Sandelin.
Ryan Sandelin won the first meeting over Thanksgiving weekend in 2019-20 as a freshman, collecting an assist in the Mavericks’ Bulldogs sweep at Amsoil Arena. The Sandelins almost met again last spring at the 2021 NCAA Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, however, the Bulldogs and Mavs fell in the national semifinals.
Another opportunity was missed in October at the Ice Breaker tournament at Amsoil Arena after UMD found itself in tournament consolation following a loss to Michigan as the Mavs advanced to the final (where they lost also against the Wolverines).
Minnesota State forward Ryan Sandelin (14) reacts after scoring a goal against Michigan in the second period of Game 3 of the Icebreaker tournament on Saturday October 16, 2021 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn. Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune
âIt was good to eliminate the first one a few years ago,â said Scott Sandelin. âI didn’t like the way the results ended this weekend. I’ve heard a bit about it from him.
Ryan Sandelin has had a lot to brag about this season. His 12 goals not only lead the Mavericks, but are tied for fifth in the country at Christmas.
Nine of Ryan Sandelin’s 12 goals – plus three assists – have been scored in his last 10 games. He scored two goals in October against Providence and Michigan when he returned to Amsoil Arena for the Ice Breaker.
âHe will score his goals around the net, loves to get there. That’s where he scores, âScott Sandelin said of his son. âHe plays well for them, he plays regularly. As a dad, I’m happy for him. I just told him to calm us down when we play him.
Clash of goalkeepers
Minnesota state goalie Dryden McKay (29) saves a shot on goal against Providence in the first period of an Ice Breaker tournament semi-final on Friday, October 15, 2021, at the Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn. Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune
As well as being a Sandelin family reunion, this week’s Bulldogs-Mavericks series pits two of the nation’s top goaltenders against each other in UMD junior Ryan Fanti and MSU senior Dryden McKay.
Fanti, the Bulldogs junior in his second season as a starter, ranks fifth in the country among goaltenders who have played over 600 minutes this season in save percentage (0.935) and goals against average (1.57 ). His four shutouts place him tied for fourth.
McKay – two-time All-American and finalist for the Hobey Baker and Mike Richter Awards last year – also ranks in the top 10 for both save percentage (0.924) and GAA (1.33). The NCAA leader in career shutouts with 30, he has six this season to lead the country with two more.
Fanti said McKay was one of the opposing goaltenders who really stood out for him when he was a substitute behind Hunter Shepard in 2019-2020. McKay’s consistency over his four years is the Mavs goalie’s greatest asset, Fanti said.
âI’m looking forward to the chance to play against him and hope to have a really good battle,â Fanti said. âObviously I want to go out on top of that. Like any good goalie in our league, it takes a lot to go and score on them. You want to get traffic, you have to get second and third opportunities and really kick it all off.
Minnesota Duluth goalie Ryan Fanti (39) watches a second period shot against Denver on Friday, December 10, 2021 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram
Second-year Bulldogs goaltender Zach Stejskal is back with the team after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in October. However, Scott Sandelin said the Cohasset native will still need time to get back into shape.
Sandelin, Fanti and Anderson said on Tuesday it was good to have Stejskal back on the ice as his presence in training provided good morale to the team.
“He always laughs, he puts in a good mood, especially in the locker room,” said Anderson. “It’s really great to have him around, having a great time.”
In other long-term injury news, second-year forward Luke Mylymok started skating lightly ahead of the vacation, but Sandelin said it could still be some time before Mylymok returns. He has been injured since the start of the season.
Bulldogs scoring at World Juniors
Besides Stejskal and Mylymok, the only players not available for UMD against Minnesota State are the two players of the United States Junior National Team at the World Junior Championships in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta. – the second-defenseman. year Wyatt Kaiser and center freshman Dominic James.
Kaiser collected an assist on Sunday in the United States’ preliminary round victory over Slovakia, while James scored last Thursday in a pre-tournament overtime loss to Finland.
âI think Wyatt and Dom both played well,â said Sandelin, who has coached four world junior championships as an assistant and team leader for the United States. “Dom was Dom – wasn’t he?” – showing its speed. I thought Kaiser looked really good. He was very involved in a lot of plans. He was instrumental in the third base with the shot on goal and the rebound. It’s good to see these guys doing well and we’ll continue to root them. “
The United States had to forfeit Switzerland on Tuesday because the team had to go into quarantine following two positive COVID-19 test results by players. The United States is set to face Sweden on Wednesday.