Bulldogs take bite out of Gophers in NCAA tourney

Minnesota's Brady Skjei (2) skates away as Minnesota Duluth's Tony Cameranesi (13) and teammate Willie Raskob celebrate a goal during the first period of an NCAA tournament game on Friday night.  

Elise Amendola/AP

MANCHESTER, N.H. — After a late-season slump and quick exit from the WCHA playoffs for Minnesota Duluth, one glimpse at the NCAA hockey tournament pairings was all the Bulldogs needed to restore their energy.

The Bulldogs scored three times against Minnesota in the first period in a 4-1 victory Friday night in the first round of the Northeast Regional.

"For us, playing the Gophers is one of those games that no matter where you are, you’re going to get up for it," said Willie Raskob, who had a goal and an assist during the Bulldogs’ scoring flurry in the first period.

"We all got excited because we knew that we could beat this team," Raskob said. "We beat them three times already this year and tonight we showed it again."

The second-seeded Bulldogs (21-15-3) will face top-seeded Boston University in the regional championship Saturday for a berth in the Frozen Four. Boston University beat Yale 3-2 in overtime.

Minnesota won the first meeting this season, but Duluth won the next three and had plenty of confidence heading into Friday night’s meeting.

Tony Cameranesi, Justin Crandall and Raskob all scored during a 6:01 span late in the first period and Duluth never eased off the pressure.

"Every line was going. We spent a lot of time in the offensive zone," Cameranesi said. "We were moving the puck and most importantly getting the puck on net."

The Bulldogs hadn’t played since Denver completed a two-game sweep in the WCHA playoffs with a 4-0 victory on March 14. Duluth looked much more rested than rusty.

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Minnesota had just 15 total shots through two periods, including six in the second period. Carson Soucy added a goal for Duluth 11:02 into the second period to make it 4-0 and Minnesota’s hopes for a comeback faded considerably.

Seth Ambroz had the lone goal for the third-seeded Gophers (23-13-3), scoring 15:06 into the third period and breaking up Kaskisuo’s bid for a shutout. Kaskisuo made 31 saves in his NCAA debut.

"They beat us four straight times. They deserve to move on and advance," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. "They were able to dictate the matchups all night long and they were able to play with a lead. And this time of year, it’s a lot easier to play with the lead."

Raskob assisted on Tony Cameranesi’s goal 12:49 into the game. Justin Crandall made it 2-0 with his 13th goal of the season at 15:27, and Raskob scored with 1:12 left in the period.

Adam Wilcox had 29 saves for Minnesota, which finally started testing Kaskisuo with 17 shots in the third.

The Gophers still hold a 134-77-17 advantage in the state rivalry, but the Bulldogs have won the only two meetings in the NCAA Tournament.

Duluth also beat Minnesota 3-1 in the 2004 regional championship.