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Saturday, March 24, 2012
Minnesota-Duluth storms past Maine

By Brion O'Connor

WORCESTER, Mass. -- One good comeback deserves another, as not even the return of the nation's leading scorer could catapult Maine past the defending national champions. In a wild nightcap at the DCU Center, the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to pin a 5-2 loss on the Black Bears.

Black Bears captain Spencer Abbott, Maine's Hobey Baker candidate and the country's top scorer, came back from a concussion suffered in the Hockey East semifinals against Boston University, and he made an immediate impact. Abbott got the Black Bears rolling at 17:16 of the first period, firing his point shot through a screen for a power-play strike.

Matt Mangene doubled up the Maine lead at 7:10 of the middle stanza, completing a breakaway that occurred when a Bulldogs player dislodged the Maine net but officials allowed play to continue. The Bulldogs got caught napping, and Mangene slipped away before slipping his backhander past Bulldog goalie Kenny Reiter.

The Bulldogs (25-9-6) still had some bark, though, and cut that lead in half when captain Jack Connolly converted a great cross-ice feed from Travis Oleksuk, blasting his one-timer past Maine's Dan Sullivan for a power-play goal at 10:47.

Caleb Herbert continued the litany of oddball goals at 16:28. The Bulldog forward stripped Maine's Brice O'Connor at the Black Bears' blueline and broke in on Sullivan, but fired his wrister over the net. The puck, however, ricocheted off the glass and fluttered over the Maine net before bouncing off Sullivan's right leg and across the goal line.

A minute later, Jake Hendrickson put the Bulldogs in front, 3-2, jamming the puck past Sullivan at the right post at 17:28. Bulldog J.T. Brown stretched the lead to 4-2 when he shoveled a backhander past Sullivan at 9:15 of the third, which effectively sent Maine (23-14-3) home. Hendrickson buried an empty-netter at 19:19 to complete the scoreline.

Next up for the defending champion Bulldogs? The 2010 champs -- Boston College.