Amazingly, Minn.-Duluth had advanced to the Frozen Four four straight seasons, but the Bulldogs saw that streak snapped this spring in the NCAA quarterfinal round, when Denver knocked them out on a goal with six minutes left.
UMD has simply been the best team in Division I the past eight years, winning 15 NCAA Tournament games including a pair of national championships in 2018 and 2019.
And the Bulldogs have a skilled incoming class of 12 that should make an immediate impact as they look to return to the Frozen Four for the fifth time in six campaigns.
View From the Glass takes a look at Minn.-Duluth in Part III of its NCHC Snapshot series:
NCAA TITLES: 3 (2011, 2018, 2019).
COACH: Scott Sandelin (23rd season, 428-348-95, .542).
2021-22 RECORD: 22-16-4, 10-10-4 NCHC (fourth place), NCAA quarterfinals.
RINK: Amsoil Arena, Duluth, Minn. (6,732).
MIAMI VS. MINN.-DULUTH IN 2021-22: 1-2-1.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Minn.-Duluth leads, 28-6-3.
SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: At Duluth – Feb. 24-25.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: F Kobe Roth, F Tanner Laderoute, F Blake Biondi, F Quinn Olson, G Zach Stejskal, D Wyatt Kaiser, D Owen Gallatin.
KEY NEW FACES: D Derek Daschke, G Matthew Thiessen, F Isaac Howard, F Cole Spicer, F Luke Johnson, D Aiden Dubinsky.
KEY LOSSES: G Ryan Fanti, F Casey Gilling, F Kobe Roth, F Koby Bender, F Noah Cates.
NOTES: Minn.-Duluth owes most of its 2021-22 success to Ryan Fanti, who posted a .929 save percentage – tops in the NCAA – a 1.83 goals-against average and tied for fourth in Division I with seven shutouts.
But with Fanti chasing his dream in the pros, the Bulldogs will likely depend on Maine transfer and former Vancouver pick Matthew Thiessen, who has not posted a save percentage above .888 in three years with the Black Bears.
Zack Stejskal also returns after going 2-2 with a 3.29 GAA and .880 save percentage in 2021-22, and freshman Zach Sandy hopes to challenge for time between the pipes after recording a .932 save percentage with NAHL Minot.
Only two UMD defenseman tallied at least a dozen points last season, and both are back. Wyatt Kaiser went 2-17-19 despite missing eight games, and Owen Gallatin was second among all freshmen with 17 points, including two goals.
No Bulldogs blueliner scored more than two goals in 2021-22, but they have added graduate transfer and four-year Miami starter Derek Daschke, who was also team captain.
Daschke has 24 career goals, the seventh-highest total by any Miami defenseman.
Minn.-Duluth did not have a 30-point producer last season and only returns two of its six skaters that reached 20.
Montreal fourth-rounder Blake Biondi led the Bulldogs in goals (17) and finished second in points (28) and plus-minus (15). Third-round Boston selection Quinn Olson broke out with 25 points on six goals and 19 assists.
The Bulldogs also have an offensively-potent incoming class, including first-round pick Isaac Howard and Bruins fourth-rounder Cole Spicer, both from the U.S. National Development Team, and Ben Steeves, who went 39-28-67 in 60 games with USHL Sioux City.
Minn.-Duluth has been Miami kryptonite for years, and the RedHawks actually managed to beat the Bulldogs in Oxford and tie them in Duluth last season. Entering 2021-22 the RedHawks had an .182 winning percentage vs. UMD.
The Bulldogs are the only NCHC team that will not face Miami in Oxford this season.