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Bulldogs buckle down for final stretch of conference schedule

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DULUTH, Minn. -- Nothing is yet certain atop the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) standings with three weeks remaining.

North Dakota holds an eight point lead on UMD, but with the right results, that could dissipate quickly. The Bulldogs have an opportunity to lock up at least second place with a sweep of Western Michigan, but that will be no small task.

The Broncos have only lost one game since their last series against the Bulldogs in early January, and have gotten healthy at the right time. They swept both St. Cloud State and Colorado College.

UMD head coach Scott Sandelin acknowledged that their 15-10-5 record doesn't represent the team they'll be putting on the ice in Kalamazoo this weekend.

"We've got to understand what we are, and how we're going to be and how we're going to win games moving forward. If it happens that we score four, five, six goals a game, great, but we haven't been that team that you can honestly say, we've scored four, five, six goals a game," said Sandelin.

First things first, he says the Bulldogs will have to take care of the puck, and play their own game.

"We've got to be in the lower scoring game mentality, and we've gotta enter those games with that mindset. I think defensively right now, we've gotta tighten a lot of things up. And you know, I think our goalie has done his job, so we've got to do a better job in front of him."

Shepard has indeed done his job, leading the conference with 17 wins. His save percentage is third at .915, and he is once again a strong candidate for the Mike Richter award.

Puck drop between the Bulldogs and Broncos is set for 6:07p.m. on Friday night.

Neil Vierzba

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