A program-record five players are participating in the IIHF World Junior Championship, and that means the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) men's hockey team will play shorthanded to start the second half of the season.
While Joey and Mikey Anderson, Dylan Samberg, Riley Tufte, and Scott Perunovich are all playing for Team USA, the UMD coaching staff sees this as a good opportunity for others to step into important roles.
"We need those guys who haven't played to step up and get back in the mix here, and create that competition down the stretch," said Bulldogs head coach Scott Sandelin. "Because I don't want any complacency regardless of whether guys are coming back from the World Junior Championship or not."
The Bulldogs finished the first half (8-9-2) overall and 7th in the NCHC standings. On Tuesday, the team practiced at AMSOIL Arena for the first time after a 16-day break.
UMD plays in the Ledyard Classic in Hanover, New Hampshire this weekend, and will most likely have around 18 players. That means younger, inexperienced players will play bigger minutes, but the team remains confident.
"We had some young guys coming into this season. Getting them experience is important," said Bulldogs junior Billy Exell. "I think our team is ready to take that to the next level. We are missing some guys coming into the second half, but I think guys are really filling their roles and the second half is going to be good."
The Bulldogs will play Yale University on Friday, December 29, and then Dartmouth College on Saturday, December 30.