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Bulldogs dominate UMass in title game to go back-to-back as national champs

Minnesota Duluth players celebrate a Mikey Anderson goal in the second period against Massachusetts Saturday, April 13, during the NCAA Championship at the HarborCenter in Buffalo, N.Y. Clint Austin / Forum News Service

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With 2:10 remaining in regulation Saturday, April 13, in the NCAA championship game at KeyBank Center, the University of Minnesota Duluth pep band blasted its fight song for the masses.

Bulldogs fans weren’t singing along to the song, however. They were well into a chant that would continue until the final buzzer.

“Back-to-back! Back-to-back!”

The Bulldogs put the wraps on their second consecutive national championship Saturday via a dominating 3-0 victory over Massachusetts before a crowd of 13,624, getting goals from senior captain Parker Mackay, sophomore defenseman Mikey Anderson and freshman center Jackson Cates.

Anderson finished with three points, Mackay had two and junior goaltender Hunter Shepard -- now a perfect 8-0 in NCAA tournament games -- made 18 saves for his seventh shutout of the season and school-record 15th of his college career.

“This is awesome, it never gets old,” said Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin, who is now one of 10 coaches to win three or more NCAA Division I hockey titles. “Every one is different, they’re obviously special.”

All three of the Bulldogs’ national championships have come in this decade, with 2011 in St. Paul being the first.

UMD is the first team to go back-to-back since Denver did in 2004 and 2005. The next 13 champions failed to even come close to repeating, not even making the Frozen Four.

“To be able to go back-to-back at the NCAA level, it’s just a credit to my teammates and the coaching staff,” Mackay said. “Sandy, it starts there from the top down. We’re going to enjoy it again just as much as the first one because it doesn’t come around that often. To be able to do it two in a row, unbelievable.”

Mackay and Anderson connected twice in the first two periods to stake the Bulldogs to a 2-0 lead going into the third period.

Like last year’s 2-1 NCAA title victory over Notre Dame at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul when senior Karson Kuhlman scored nine minutes in, the captain once again struck early in the first.

Mackay scored on the power play 3:51 into the championship game, taking a feed up the middle from Anderson and going forehand to backhand for his 16th goal of the season.

Sophomore center Justin Richards won a faceoff late in the second to Mackay to set up the second score. The captain then wheeled himself into a position to find Anderson racing unmarked up the middle. Anderson fired a shot top corner, bar-down over the glove of UMass freshman goaltender Filip Lindberg.

“Parker had great plays on both of them,” Anderson said. “You got to give him a lot of credit on those.

“It’s unbelievable. He’s been our glue guy all year. He’s taken the ‘C’ and worn it with pride.”

Anderson’s third point — another assist — came when he blocked a shot that would eventually lead to the dagger by Cates with 2:42 left in regulation. The goal came after the Bulldogs killed a fourth UMass power play.

The Minutemen finished 0-for-4 on the man advantage in the final after going 3-for-5 against Denver in a 4-3 overtime win in the Frozen Four semifinals.

"It's unfortunate. It's unfortunate that I don't think that was our best tonight,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “I don't mind losing to a good hockey team and, even at our best, I don't know if we beat Duluth. We'll go home knowing that we lost to a better team tonight."