DULUTH, Minn. — Minnesota-Duluth won a seventh consecutive game Friday night by doing most everything right.
In a grinding effort against Michigan Tech, the Bulldogs had more than twice as many shots on goal, blocked more than twice as many shots, and got another solid goaltending performance.
That translated into a 3-1 WCHA victory before 4,667 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (16-8-2, 12-5-0 WCHA) now have their most consecutive victories since 1989-90, and have won eight in a row at home for a 10-2 mark at the DECC.
Goals 29 seconds apart by junior winger Nick Anderson in the first period gave UMD all the scoring it would need.
“We’re playing well; I can’t put it any other way,” said Anderson, who has four goals the past four games. “It doesn’t make any difference if the score is only 3-1. If we only give up 20 shots, that’s a good sign, and if we get 46 that means we’re getting chances.
“Since the second half of the season began we’ve been steady. Isaac [Reichmuth] has been outstanding in goal and we’ve been rolling out four lines.”
Last-place Michigan Tech (4-15-4, 2-11-2) fell behind 3-0 after two periods and never really pressured UMD. The Huskies had numerous turnovers, but were held in the game by freshman goalie Bryce Luker, who had 43 saves.
UMD scoring leader Junior Lessard earned his 19th goal of the season and 61st of his career on a power play with 49 seconds left in the second period. Evan Schwabe’s assist on the play stretched his scoring streak to 14 games. Michigan Tech’s only score came with a two-man advantage early in the third period as Chris Conner got his 18th goal of the season.
“Bryce Luker bailed out a lot of our guys tonight,” said Michigan Tech first-year coach Jamie Russell. “Some of our guys played well, but a lot of them dropped the ball.
“Duluth is a very powerful team and played very well defensively. We didn’t generate much offense.”
UMD had 19 shots in the first period and gained a final advantage of 46-20. The scoring began at 8:30 when Anderson created a turnover and winger Luke Stauffacher took the puck. Luker stopped a Stauffacher shot, but Anderson was open at the left edge of the net for a goal. Seconds later, Anderson battled with a defender in front of the Michigan Tech net, then got loose long enough to convert a T.J. Caig pass.
However, the two goals in 29 seconds by the same player wasn’t close to a UMD record. Defenseman Brett Larson had goals 12 seconds apart against Northern Michigan in 1994.
Although Michigan Tech led 7-6 in shots early in the first period, it was 19-9 in UMD’s favor after 20 minutes and the Bulldogs had a 18-2 edge in the second period.
“Our defense has made a big difference the last seven games,” said UMD defenseman Steve Czech. “Our forecheck tonight forced them into mistakes and when we got into the offensive zone we controlled the play. It’s hard for the other team to get much going when they don’t have the puck.”
Reichmuth has played every game during the winning streak and ran his record to 11-1 in the WCHA. In his last start against Michigan Tech, on Dec. 5 in Houghton, Mich., the Huskies scored on four of seven shots and Reichmuth was replaced after the first period of a 6-5 loss.
In the rematch, Reichmuth was solid, especially in the third period. After the Huskies got within 3-1, the UMD sophomore got a stick out during a Conner breakaway at 8:00 and finished with eight stops in the final 20 minutes.
The Bulldogs are 12-3-1 the past 16 games and remain second in the WCHA, two points behind No. 1-rated North Dakota.
“It was a hard-fought game and what I liked best is that we didn’t give them a lot. We closed off lanes and closed gaps,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin.
Kevin Pates covers Minnesota-Duluth for the Duluth News Tribune.