Deep Depth: How Minnesota Duluth Won Its Second National Championship

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee of Violent Turtle Photography)


The University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs won their second national championship on Saturday night with a 2-1 win over Notre Dame. They won with goals from Captain Karson Kuhlman, and Jared Thomas. UMD also got timely goaltending as Hunter Shepard made 19 saves on the evening. Of his 19 saves, three of them were on solid grade-A chances for Notre Dame.

He outlasted 2018 Mike Richter Award (best goalie in college hockey) Winner, Notre Dame goalie Cale Morris. He made 33 saves but was solved early by UMD.

Initially,  Notre Dame did a better job at getting sticks into lanes and making Duluth earn its chances, however it was not enough to stop them from replicating their streak of scoring first in their last three games of this tournament.

Duluth captain Karson Kuhlman capitalized on a Notre Dame turnover. He started the play with the turnover that Jade Miller was able to return to him. Kuhlman then raced in and fired a strike from just outside the right faceoff dot that went off Notre Dame defender Tory Dello and past the glove of Cale Morris to give UMD the first lead of the night 9:06 into the first period.

Notre Dame played Duluth tough the entire first period, but could not convert on any of their chances. They had a few solid chances, but could not solve Shepard.

The lack of scoring for Notre Dame benefited UMD early on as Jared Thomas netted his second goal of the weekend 18:39 into the first. Thomas won a puck battle in the Notre Dame zone, found Kuhlman and returned the puck back to Thomas. He then walked to the side of Morris and banked a shot in off of him.

Notre Dame did get one goal 7:40 into the second on a power play as Cam Morrison found Andrew Oglevie on a nice setup. He then wired a wrist shot through the five-hole of Shepard.

For as much as Notre Dame pressured Duluth the rest of the night, the final margin was set at that point. UMD did a superb job of limiting second and third chances, and did just enough to earn the win. Duluth even prevented Notre Dame from getting a shot on net with the extra attacker for the last part of the game.


UMD’s Karson Kuhlman on the depth of his team, and the play made by Jade Miller to set him up for his goal.

“Obviously those guys have been playing great all year. That’s one thing that we knew
coming into the season that we’d have was real good depth up front. Obviously any single night lines one through four could score and all six [defenseman] can put the puck in the net. And Shep [Hunter Shepard could probably score if he came out, too.”

“But it was a good play. I think Jader got a stick on a puck and I was able to turn in transition quick and sneak one by his glove.”

Jared Thomas on the unsung heroes of UMD

” I think we have a bunch of unsung heroes on our team. There’s a guy sitting down there [ Blake Young] .He’s came such a long way since his freshman year. We had so many guys like that on our team, playing third,fourth line. And we’re never afraid when they were on the ice. We knew that they were going to do their job.And we trusted everyone in our locker room, whether the guys were playing or even the guys that weren’t in the lineup. If we needed them we knew that they’d be ready to step right in. And I think that goes unnoticed sometimes, those depth guys. So I’m so happy for our group and especially for those guys that don’t get a lot of recognition.”


Notre Dame Advances to the National Championship 4-3: A Quick Recap Plus First Look at UMD-ND in the Final

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

Coming into game two of the Frozen Four, a couple of things were relevant. Michigan is a young team with a lot of speed and offense with average goaltending. Notre Dame is slightly more experienced trying to avenge its Frozen Four semifinal loss to Denver last year. One team used its speed and puck luck to race out to an early lead. The other came back, regained momentum, and scored a harrowing goal with just under five seconds left to win the game.

Michigan was the first team that raced out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Tony Calderone and Dexter Dancs. Notre Dame was able to answer back with goals from Andrew Oglevie, Jordan Gross, and Cal Burke to take the lead. Michael Pastujov tied things up once again and looked to have the game going to overtime. Jake Evans had other ideas as he took a feed from Cam Morrison and was able to convert the game winner with under four seconds left in the game.

It was impressive to see Notre Dame come back to win its fifth consecutive one goal game.

National Championship First Look 

Minnesota Duluth takes on a talented Notre Dame side that boosts complete goaltending, solid defense, and a talented group of forwards that can score by committee. For UMD to have a chance, they need to find ways to neutralize the team speed of Notre Dame. They did a superb ob canceling the speed of Ohio State and keeping their chances limited. For a team that does not generate goals in bunches, they have to play the sound defense that has got them here to have a chance to win another national championship in St. Paul.

Look for more from today and on the championship later on today.

Duluth Does It Again: How UMD Won Another One Goal Game to Advance to the National Championship

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee of Violent Turtle Photography)

(Click here for more of Kelsey’s work, all photos free to use just please credit Kelsey Lee of Violent Turtle Photography)

In the Xcel Energy Center, we knew a few things about Minnesota Duluth and Ohio State coming into this Frozen Four matchup. Both teams showcase a similar structure of defensive integrity, sound goaltending, and opportune goal scoring. The pace of this one early on did not match that. It netted a bunch of chances, problem for Ohio State, was they were all in their own end. 1:53 into the first, Louie Roehl took a feed from fellow defenseman Matt Anderson, walked  in on the right side of the ice, and wired one past Ohio State netminder Sean Romeo from just outside the right faceoff dot.

One minute and eleven seconds later, Jared Thomas took a feed from UMD captain Karson Kuhlman, and then proceeded to race past all five OSU skaters on the way to making it a 2-0 game with a superb backhand to make it a 2-0 game.

The Thomas goal would provide the game winner for UMD but not spare Bulldogs fans a remaining game of close calls and headaches. Ohio State did generate more chances for themselves as the game went on but UMD was able to limit them to 20 shots on net for the evening.

The score remained 2-0 through a physical second period. The second stanza showed OSU’s ability to utilize its speed game to turn things around.. The Buckeyes could not solve Bulldogs netminder Hunter Shepard in the second.

The third period brought some different things to the mix. Ohio State was able to score on a lucky deflection a broken stick  on a power play. Wyatt Ege’s stick broke, and the puck went off of a UMD skate and Dakota Joshua was able to keep the puck in. He sent the puck to Tanner Laczynski who wired an elevating shot to the back of the net.  This lone OSU marker was not enough.

Ohio State had multiple chances in the final few minutes but could not tie things up. Duluth also was unable to convert on an empty net. This lead to a tense final few minutes for the Bulldogs, but they were able to do just enough to set up a national championship with the winner of the Michigan-Notre Dame nightcap.

Ohio State fans of both hockey teams have a lot to look forward to as both teams made the Frozen Four this season. OSU Head Coach Steve Rohlik talked a little about the superb seasons both had.

“To walk away and have both programs in a Frozen Four speaks volumes of where the hockey is at right now [at Ohio State]”. Both head coaches, Rohlik, and Nadine Muzerall for the Women’s Team have lead their programs to the Frozen Four this season. Both have incredibly bright futures in a great hockey market in Columbus.

Head Coach Scott Sandelin talked about how his team’s ability to play well in one goal games helped them tonight. He also noted the superb play of Hunter Shepard (Shep).

“I’d like to think it’s helped us. Obviously, it’s great when you win them… I think the big change for our team, we’ve played much better defense in the last month-and-a-half, two months. Shep has been a big part of that.”