Goalie makes Bulldogs tough to beat

Michael Rand

It’s generally a given that a hockey team will struggle between the pipes the season after a four-year starting goaltender graduates.
Things certainly looked that way for Minnesota-Duluth this year. The departure of Taras Lendzyk left them with three inexperienced goalies who had combined to play in only eight college hockey games in their careers.
But, as anyone who has seen “The Crying Game” will tell you, looks can sometimes be deceiving.
The Bulldogs started freshman Brant Nicklin in both games this weekend against Alaska-Anchorage. The Comox, British Columbia, native responded by saving 55 of 57 shots in back-to-back 3-1 wins over the Seawolves.
Nicklin, who also posted a shutout against Army last weekend in his first career start, could be the surprise of the league this year. He played last year in a junior hockey league in British Columbia and was third in save percentage and first in games played.
Goaltending was Duluth’s only glaring question mark to start the season. If Nicklin continues his solid play, the Bulldogs could be dangerous.

Pioneers blaze a slow trail
Several coaches in the WCHA thought Denver would contend for the league title this season because it returned most of its key players.
The Pioneers aren’t buried after two games, but being swept at North Dakota certainly doesn’t help their title hopes.
A shaky first weekend is nothing new for Denver. The Pioneers haven’t won a regular season opener since 1992, and haven’t won a season opener on the road since defeating Wisconsin in 1985.
North Dakota, on the other hand, sits tied with Minnesota-Duluth in first place after its weekend wins at a sold out Englestad Arena.

Goalie finally gets goose egg
Wisconsin goalie Kirk Daubenspeck had played in 88 games, logged more than 5,000 minutes and made more than 2,500 saves before this season started.
But the senior had never recorded a shutout until he did against St. Cloud State on Friday.
Daubenspeck, who now ranks fourth on the Badgers’ all-time saves list, made 18 in Wisconsin’s 2-0 win against the Huskies.

The more the merrier
This weekend’s series between Minnesota and Colorado College broke two Mariucci Arena attendance records.
The 9,856 fans on Friday night set a single-game record, and the two-game total of 19,688 was a new series record.
Minnesota added two rows to the arena after last season.

Backchecks
ù Michigan Tech, which swept Mankato State in a non-conference series this weekend, is off to its best start (4-1) in 12 years.
ù After its sweep of Alaska Anchorage this weekend, Minnesota-Duluth is now 10-0-1 against the Seawolves in their last 11 meetings.
Conversely, the Bulldogs have lost 10 consecutive games to the Gophers, whom they play this weekend in Duluth.
ù Colorado College has not lost more than two games in a row since the 1992-93 season.