Minnesota Duluth stifles UMass to repeat as champions

  • Massachusetts forward Jacob Pritchard (14) and Minnesota-Duluth forward Noah Cates (21) collide during the third period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts players react after losing 3-0 to Minnesota -Duluth following the third period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts' Marc Del Gaizo (2) defends against Minnesota-Duluth' Parker Mackay (39) during the second period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Minnesota-Duluth forward Parker Mackay (39) celebrates his goal during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game against Massachusetts, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Minnesota-Duluth forward Parker Mackay (39) puts the puck past Massachusetts goalie Filip Lindberg (35) during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts forward Kurt Keats (7) stick checks Minnesota-Duluth forward Billy Exell (16) during the second period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts goalie Filip Lindberg (35) makes a save against Minnesota-Duluth during the second period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts forward John Leonard (9) kicks the puck past Minnesota-Duluth forward Nick Swaney (23) during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts forward Mitchell Chaffee (21) and Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Louie Roehl (6) battle behind the net during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Minnesota-Duluth forward Parker Mackay (39) celebrates his goal during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game against Massachusetts, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts defenseman Cale Makar (16) looks to shoot on Minnesota-Duluth goalie Hunter Shepard (32) during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts defenseman Mario Ferraro (5) and Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Matt Anderson (3) battle for the puck during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

Staff Writer
Published: 4/14/2019 12:46:55 AM

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Minnesota Duluth turned the UMass hockey team into the worst version of itself in the national championship game.

The Bulldogs controlled possession, worked the boards and silenced power plays, Saturday night at KeyBank Center. They shut out UMass for just the third time all season, 3-0.

“They just competed really hard and they seemed really comfortable,” sophomore defenseman Mario Ferraro said. “They knew where their teammates were and just made quick puck decisions. We could have competed a little bit harder, but at the end of the day we’re proud of the season we had and credit to Duluth, they played well.”

It started in the faceoff circle. UMD won 31 of 51 faceoffs, including 15 by Justin Richards. The Bulldogs used that possession advantage to put pressure on UMass early.

They won the game’s first six faceoffs and took its first seven shots. UMD was up 1-0 before UMass even put a shot on goal.

“We didn’t let them really get going,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “We didn’t want to take our foot off the gas.”

The Bulldogs outshot UMass 31-18, including a 14-5 advantage after the first period. It was the second time the Minutemen were outshot at the Frozen Four after Denver had a 40-28 edge in the semifinal.

“We could have done a better job getting traffic in front of the goalie’s eyes and getting pucks to the net,” UMass sophomore John Leonard said. “It’s not many times we’ve been outshot this year.”

The Bulldogs also neutered UMass’ second-ranked power play. They killed all four penalties they took, allowing just three total shots in eight minutes.

“We would have liked to have executed better,” UMass senior Jacob Pritchard said. “They play a good defensive system, I just think they executed better.”

UMass tried to adjust by altering the sides of its wingers but couldn’t find the combinations or the spark to find a goal.

“We were trying to get pucks and get them to the middle because they were pinching pretty hard on that half wall,” UMass sophomore Cale Makar said. “We tried to start competing harder.”

Once UMD scored its second goal 15 minutes, 48 seconds into the second period, it leaned fully into its strength and physicality. The Bulldogs challenged UMass moving out of its own zone, through the neutral zone and into their defensive end. They controlled play along the boards to limit UMass’ time on the puck and shortened the game.

“We call it our ground game. We wanted to play hard on the walls, we wanted to make it harder on their team,” Sandelin said.

The Bulldogs are used to playing that way. They returned their entire defensive corps from last season’s national championship team. Three of them are NHL draft picks. Goalie Hunter Shepard backstopped the Bulldogs to their second straight title. It was UMD’s seventh shutout of the season.

“I was very impressed with their back end. They’ve got some big guys, they’re physical,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “Their puck poise, their puck management was extremely good. That’s as good a back end as we’ve seen this year.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.



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