Home Ice for the Bulldogs for NCHC Quarterfinals

UMD Men's Hockey UMD Men's Hockey |  Photo: WDIO/Kevin Johnson

Eyewitness Sports
Created: March 07, 2018 07:46 PM

Duluth, Minn. - It is postseason time in men's college hockey and the #8 University of Minnesota Duluth will have home ice for the quarterfinals of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) playoffs.

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The Bulldogs will host Western Michigan in a best-of-three quarterfinal round series against Western Michigan University. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and, if necessary, Sunday at AMSOIL Arena.

UMD is unbeaten in five of their last six games (5-0-1) and are 19-14-3 overall. UMD also finished third in the final NCHC standings at 13-11-0-0 while Western Michigan sports a 15-17-2 record in all games and went 10-13-1-0 in league play (tied for fifth place with Colorado College and the University of Nebraska-Omaha).

UMD and Western Michigan have butted heads on 25 occasions previously, including four times during the regular season in which the Bulldogs went 3-1-0 against the Broncos. That includes a series sweep recently (Feb. 23-24) in Kalamazoo, Mich., where UMD won 8-0 and 6-1. Back on Nov. 10-11, 2017 at AMSOIL Arena, the two clubs traded shutout wins. UMD made its 2017-18 NCHC home debut by taking down Western Michigan 3-0 in the opener only to have the Broncos turn the tables with a shutout victory off their own (5-0) one night later.

"It is going be a much tighter series and more intense and they have got healthier and got a couple of guys back in their lineup that they didn't have before and they seem to have settled in maybe on a goaltender," says UMD Head Coach Scott Sandelin.

The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 16-8-1 and are 12-8-1 against Western Michigan since the two clubs joined the NCHC ranks in 2013-14.

The four, quarterfinal playoff series winners will advance to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, which is set for March 16-17 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

To see UMD's schedule, click here.

The NCHC named their all-league honorees today and that list included UMD freshman defenseman Scott Perunovich and sophomore goaltender Hunter Shepard.

Perunovich, a native of Hibbing, Minn., earned a spot on the All-NCHC first team, becoming, in the process, just the second all-conference first teammer the Bulldogs have ever produced (the other was center Murray Keogan -- in 1969-70 when UMD competed in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association) while Shepard received second-team recognition. A member of the NCHC All-Rookie Team for 2017-18, Perunovich currently ranks fifth among all NCAA freshmen in points (31 -- the highest total of any first-year defenseman in the country), first in plus-minus rating (+17) and fourth in assists (22). His team-leading 31 points are just two shy of the UMD single-season record for a rookie blueliner, which was set by Justin Faulk in 2010-11. Perunovich, the NCHC Rookie of the Month for November, was also a key contributor for the Bronze-medal winning Team USA at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship earlier this winter.

Shepard, who played behind All-NCHC second team pick Hunter Miska one year ago, enters the postseason having amassed the most overall shutouts (a school-record six) and wins (he's 19-12-1 on the year) and the third-best goals against average (2.04) and saves percentage (.923) of any NCHC netminder. The Cohasset, Minn., product has been voted the NCHC Goaltender of the Week a league-high five times this season and has started 31 consecutive games going back to Oct. 21.

(Contributions from Bob Nygaard, UMD Associate Athletic Director: Communications.)


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