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NCAA Tournament: UMD Makes Quick Work of Gophers

Matt Dewkett

Manchester, NH -- It's hard to beat any team four teams in a row, but it's even harder when that team is your rival. That didn't deter Minnesota Duluth as it beat Minnesota for a fourth straight time Friday evening to advance to the Northeast Regional Final on Saturday against top seeded Boston University.

After surviving an early surge by the Golden Gophers, UMD can on strong in the second half of the opening period. Tony Cameranasi's goal set the stage for three goals in a span of 5:59 to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead heading to the locker room for the first intermission.

"It was a great win for our team. I'm very proud of our team. We started a little slow then we found our legs. From that point on we played a pretty good game," said UMD coach Scott Sandelin.

UMD scored a power play goal in the second period and Minnesota scored in garbage time to break up the shutout bid for the final score of 4-1.

In a nearly empty arena, playing over 1,000 miles from home, the rest of the game seemed nothing more than a glorified scrimmage. Despite the lack of crowd and knowing they had beat the Gophers three straight times, there was no let up in the Bulldogs.

"I don't think it's hard at all," said Tony Cameranasi emphatically. "For us playing the Gophers, it's one of those games, no matter where you are, you're going to get up for it. When we drew this team in the selection, we got excited because we knew we could beat this team."

UMD drew first blood 12:49 into the game off a beautiful feed from behind the goal line. Defenseman Willie Raskob was circling around the cage from right to left and sent a perfect pass out front to Cameranasi who one-timed it past Adam Wilcox.

"In the four games we've played getting the lead, getting that first goal, has really helped us," Sandelin said.

The Bulldogs extended their lead just under three minutes later when another defenseman joined in on the offensive fun. Brenden Kotyk took a low shot from the right point that Justin Crandall tipped past Wilcox for a 2-0 lead.

An unfortunate bounce put Minnesota behind the eight ball with 1:12 to play in the opening period. The Gophers cleared the zone, but UMD brought it right back in and a pass attempt by Willie Raskob deflected off star defenseman Mike Reilly's skate and into his own net. Cameranasi and Austin Farley assisted on the goal.

Carson Soucy scored a power play goal 11:02 into the second period to make the game even more of a laugher. The Bulldogs, up 4-0, made it look easy as both teams cruised to the finish from there.

Seth Ambroz lit the lamp for the Gophers with 4:54 to play in the game to end Kasimir Kaskisuo's shutout bid. The freshman netminder admitted he didn't know much about the rivalry between the two teams, but he certainly played with purpose and intensity. The Espoo, Finland native kicked aside 31 shots for the victory, his 18th of the season.

Sandelin and the Bulldogs are one win away from getting back to the Frozen Four for the first time since their championship season in 2011, but standing in the way is a very good Boston University team that will have the benefit of the crowd in Saturday's regional final.

"I'm excited. Obviously they've had a great year. They have a good team. They have some tremendous players. We all know he good [Jack Eichel] is. You don't win 26 games and win Hockey East by being a bad team," said Sandelin.

"They struggled today, but they'll be ready tomorrow. We're going to have to be better too. It's exciting to play them. It's a now opponent for us. It's an opportunity to move on to the next step. Our guys are looking forward to it," added Sandelin, who admitted he doesn't know too much about the Terriers.

Puck drop on Saturday is set for 5:30 p.m. ET with a spot in the Frozen Four hanging in the balance.

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Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.