A rough homestand for the University of Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team got rougher on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs yielded three first-period goals and couldn't recover in a 5-1 loss to Minnesota State University-Mankato in front of 6,398 at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth.
The loss capped a four-game home stretch in which UMD went 0-4-0 and slipped to eighth place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings - six points behind sixth-place MSU and the final home-ice playoff spot with six conference games remaining.
UMD struggled to get anything going in the first period and dug itself a 3-0 hole by the end of the frame after Zach Lehrke, Teddy Blueger and Eriah Hayes scored for the Mavericks. Each of MSU's goals were scored on plays around the net, something that head coach Scott Sandelin mentioned as a concern after Friday's 4-2 setback.
Lehrke snuck a shot through UMD goalie Aaron Crandall's legs 3 minutes, 47 seconds in. Blueger redirected a Hayes shot over Crandall's shoulder just before the 17-minute mark and Hayes knocked home a rebound from the edge of the crease two minutes later.
"They capitalized on their chances, but I actually really like the way that we played this weekend," Crandall said after making his first start since Dec. 29 against Ferris State University. "I think that our goaltending needs to be better. Both of us that played this weekend weren't very good."
Freshman forward Tony Cameranesi scored his team-leading seventh power-play goal late in the middle period off a beautiful pass from linemate Mike Seidel to give the Bulldogs some life, but Hayes scored quickly in the third to seal it.
Crandall finished with 19 saves for UMD before being replaced by rookie netminder Alex Fons with 7 minutes, 8 seconds left in the third period.
"A couple bad bounces early, and we played unreal in the second and third," Crandall said. "Not much has been said in the locker room because we've talked enough over the past couple weeks with the four home losses. That's not acceptable. We're just trying to put ourselves in the best possible spot that we can for the playoffs now and try to do some work come March."
The Bulldogs (10-15-3, 8-11-3) kick off a four-game road swing next weekend against Bemidji State University. Friday night puck-drop is scheduled for 7:37 p.m.
UMD is now 2-9-2 in Saturday night games this season ... Senior Keegan Flaherty returned to the lineup after missing three games in a row with an injury ... sophomore forward Caleb Herbert missed his first career contest with an undisclosed injury. Herbert had played in 68 games prior to tonight ... MSU swept the Bulldogs at home for the first time since the 2005-06 season.