COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Most of Minnesota-Duluth’s team had never played at the World Arena until Friday night, but the Bulldogs looked at home once they became comfortable with the large ice surface and thin Colorado air.
No. 5 UMD, which last appeared in the building in November of 2000, got two goals each from two juniors — defenseman Neil Petruic and center Evan Schwabe — to defeat No. 15 Colorado College 5-2 before a crowd of 6,934.
The win extends the nation’s longest unbeaten streak to 13 (12-0-1), tying a school record set in 1978-79 and equaled twice during the 1984-85 season.
UMD (21-8-3, 17-5-1) remained first in the WCHA, two points ahead of No. 2 North Dakota, which won 6-3 at Minnesota State.
“The unbeaten streak is just kind of a number to us,” said Schwabe. “We’re proud of it, but what we want is first place. That’s the biggest incentive we have and to stay there we have to keep winning.”
Colorado College (16-12-3, 9-12-2) had gone 5-2 the previous seven games and was 7-1 at the World Arena against UMD. And the defending WCHA champions led 1-0 four minutes into the game.
But the No. 2 offensive team in Division I outdid the No. 1 defensive team in the WCHA, and Bulldog sophomore goalie Isaac Reichmuth outplayed Colorado College freshman Matt Zaba to run his league mark to 16-1-1. UMD was outshot 29-27.
UMD needed the first half of the opening period to adjust to the Olympic-sized rink, which is 200 by 100 compared to the DECC surface of 190 by 85. The Bulldogs are now 4-0-1 on Olympic rinks this season.
“Even though this building was new to most of us, we skated here Thursday and today. We’re pretty confident on how we can move the puck, so a larger rink can be to our advantage,” said Petruic.
However, the Bulldogs had no shots on goal through the first nine minutes and fell behind 1-0. UMD turned the puck over near its net in a 4-on-4 shift and Colorado College winger Brett Sterling passed quickly to scoring leader Marty Sertich. The sophomore center from Roseville, Minn., had a wide-open net on the left side and scored his 10th goal of the season at 3:38.
When UMD generated its first shot, at 8:45, it tied the game. The Tigers had a giveaway in their zone, Junior Lessard fanned on a shot from the slot, but the puck slipped to Schwabe on the left side. He connected and the assist extended Lessard’s point streak to 12 games. He has 45 points in 32 games.
UMD’s first power play of the game didn’t officially result in a goal, but four seconds later the Bulldogs went ahead. Petruic drove a shot from slot before Andrew Canzanello of the Tigers could rejoin the play from the penalty box. That meant a 2-1 advantage with 4:24 to go in the first period. By the end of the period UMD led 13-10 in shots.
“The last two years we’ve played pretty well on big rinks, so that wasn’t a big concern,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “Colorado came at us aggressively, but our defensemen were very good, our goaltending was good and we killed their four power plays.”
The only three penalties of the second period were to UMD, giving the Tigers three power plays. They couldn’t connect with a man-advantage, but did gain a 2-2 tie at 2:28. After defenseman Lee Sweat’s backhand attempt hit the left pipe, Aaron Slattengren made good on a rebound in the slot for his 13th goal. That was the first shot on goal of the period and the only shot by either team through eight minutes.
A hustling play behind the Colorado College net led to Petruic’s second goal. Center Tim Stapleton got the puck to the left circle and Petruic shot off a pass at 9:29. That marked the first multiple-goal game of Petruic’s three-year career.
Reichmuth was particularly sharp the rest of the second period. One of his best stops was with a shoulder on Sertich with 3:10 left.
Schwabe added a critical power-play goal at 8:03 of the third period from the right circle, for his 12th goal to make it 4-2, and Stapleton had an empty-net goal with 59 seconds to play. UMD was 1-for-4 on power plays.
The Tigers weren’t happy with their performance, especially at home where they are 12-6 this season.
“Sometimes we look like a million bucks and sometimes like a 10th-place team,” said Sertich, whose team dropped from sixth to seventh in the WCHA. “We just don’t have that killer instinct. This was a disappointing loss.”
The teams meet again at 8:05 p.m. today.
Kevin Pates covers college hockey for the Duluth News Tribune.