DULUTH, Minn. — Ten goals the past two games and two victories for Minnesota Duluth.
That hasn’t happened for more than three years, but the Bulldogs accomplished the goal scoring feat with a 5-2 home-opening victory over Western Michigan on Friday night.
UMD (2-0-1) scored 105 seconds into the game, on the first of two Justin Fontaine goals, and received scoring from four players. The Bulldogs came into the game following a 5-0 win at Northern Michigan on Oct. 11.
The first hockey meeting between the schools came before a crowd of 4,138 at the DECC. Western Michigan (1-2) of Kalamazoo, Mich., was outshot 33-25. Only one goal was scored 5-on-5.
“With the crackdown on [obstruction] penalties, special teams are even more important,” said Fontaine, who had four goals as a freshman last season. “We want to use our speed to take advantage of drawing penalties and score on the power play.”
Fontaine, a right winger, did that with two minutes left in the first period. Taking a pass from freshman Mike Connolly, knocking a shot off the skate of Western Michigan goaltender Riley Gill, getting the rebound and knocking it off a defender, then putting a third attempt in the net. Connolly also had a couple of whacks at the puck.
UMD led 2-1 after one period, 3-1 after two and went up 4-1 early in the third period on a Josh Meyers power-play score. The Bulldogs also scored 4-on-4 and had an empty-net goal by Nick Kemp with 66 seconds to play. Freshman center Jack Connolly had three assists.
The Broncos, picked to finish last in the 12-team Central Collegiate Hockey Association, were at their best in the third period, outshooting UMD 13-12.
“We’re relentless,” said Western Michigan junior center Chris Clackson, son of former NHL defenseman Kim Clackson. “We always come to the puck, we’re always battling.
“This was the first time we’ve played a WCHA team since I’ve been here. They play a very skilled game, and we’re more physical.”
The Broncos hadn’t faced a Western Collegiate Hockey Association foe since Wisconsin on Dec. 30, 2005.
Western Michigan tied the score 1-1 on the game’s first power play. Clackson, with his back to the net, swept the puck into the right corner of the net at 5:11 for his third goal of the season.
That broke UMD goalie Alex Stalock’s shutout streak at 114 minutes, 1 second, about 23 minutes short of his school record of 137:37.
After going up by three goals, UMD was lethargic the rest of the way.
“Part of every period we played well, but part of every period they took it to us,” Connolly said.
“The second half of the third period we sat back.”
Despite not having previously played UMD, Western Michigan came in 2-0 at the DECC with two 2000 Silverado Shootout victories in winning the now-defunct holiday tournament.
Kevin Pates covers Minnesota-Duluth for the Duluth News-Tribune in Duluth, Minn.