What a four-year run it has been for Minnesota-Duluth.
In 2018, national title. In 2019, national title. In 2020, the Bulldogs had 22 wins heading into the NCHC Tournament, but COVID canceled the entire postseason.
Then came 2021. After Michigan was forced to forfeit its first-round NCAA matchup, UMD’s five-overtime win over North Dakota was one of the best games in Division I history.
The Bulldogs fell to UMass in the national semifinal round, but their recent run still ranks among the best in recent D-I history, and they are again poised to take a run an NCAA championship.
View From the Glass takes a look at Minn.-Duluth in Part III of its seven-part, NCHC Snapshot series:
NCAA TITLES: 3 (2011, 2018, 2019).
COACH: Scott Sandelin (22nd season, 406-332-91, .545).
2020-21 RECORD: 15-11-2 (13-9-2 NCHC, third place).
RINK (capacity): Amsoil Arena (6,026), Duluth, Minn.
MIAMI VS. MINN.-DULUTH LAST SEASON: 0-6.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Minn.-Duluth leads, 26-5-2.
SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: At Duluth – Jan. 14-15; At Miami – Feb. 25-26.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: G Ryan Fanti, G Zach Stejskal, F Noah Cates, F Quinn Olson, D Wyatt Kaiser, D Matt Anderson, D Louie Roehl.
KEY NEW FACES: F Casey Gilling, F Carter Loney, F Dominic James, D Owen Gallatin, F Kyler Kleven, D Will Francis.
KEY LOSSES: F Nick Swaney, F Jackson Cates, D Matt Cairns, F Cole Koepke.
NOTES: Duluth is again loaded, as several of its key cogs during its NCAA championship teams are returning as fifth-year seniors, including Matt Anderson, Kobe Roth and Koby Bender.
Three of the Bulldogs’ top four points-producing forwards are gone, but Roth finished with 13 goals and 23 points, and Bender added 20 points, including 13 assists.
Noah Cates, a Philadelphia draftee and brother of Jackson Cates, went 5-14-19 last season and Quinn Olson, selected by Boston, looks to improve on an 11-point season.
Anderson’s return to the blueliner is huge, as he has logged 139 games during his four-year career.
Wyatt Kaiser (Chicago selection) was a standout as a freshman with 10 assists, and Connor Kelley and Luke Loheit will also compete for the top four spots on the UMD defense corps.
Ryan Fanti was between the pipes for 65 percent of UMD’s minutes last season and posted a 2.36 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.
In limited action, Zach Stejskal posted a 1.83 GAA and .929 save percentage as a freshman, so he should compete for the starting job this season.
These teams met in three venues last season, and Miami was equally inept at handling UMD at all of them. The Bulldogs went 6-0 against the RedHawks in 2020-21, winning twice in the Omaha bubble, two times in Oxford and sweeping a pair in Duluth.