DULUTH, Minn. — An all-Connolly second period, including two goals in 42 seconds, turned a scoreless game into one-sided performance Friday night, as Minnesota-Duluth took care of Clarkson University 4-1, in a non-conference men’s college hockey game before 3,701 fans at the DECC.
The game was 0-0 through five minutes into the second period before Mike Connolly knocked home a Justin Fontaine pass at the left edge of the crease.
Seconds later, linemate Jack Connolly repositioned his skate at the crease as freshman defenseman Drew Olson powered a shot from the right point. The puck deflected in, was reviewed, and stood for a 2-0 lead. Two goals on two shots. Jack Connolly made it 3-0 later in the second.
UMD outshot Clarkson 20-3 for the period and 50-17 for the game.
“That first [scoreless] period was kind of a grind, then once we got that first goal, it was a spark,” said Jack Connolly, who has six goals and 12 points in seven games. “After we got two more then things really shifted in our favor. I don’t know if any of our goals were pretty, but all we keep talking about is getting pucks at the net.”
Clarkson (3-3) of ECAC Hockey had a three-game win streak broken. UMD (4-2-1) had a two-game (0-1-1) winless streak broken.
The Golden Knights were making their first DECC appearance since 1984 in a Division I quarterfinal two-game, total-goals series. They arrived with a number of players fighting the flu, including star winger Matt Beca.
Each team lost a skater to first-period checking-from-behind majors (Clarkson winger Brandon DeFazio and UMD winger Jordan Fulton), and then Clarkson’s Scott Freeman went out after taking a puck to the ankle.
“[UMD] was a much better team; we didn’t play with much composure, especially in the second period,” said Clarkson coach George Roll. “We lost our focus and didn’t compete. It was hard to have any consistency, but UMD was much hungrier on the puck.”
UMD goalie Kenny Reiter, who earned his first collegiate victory, didn’t see a shot from Clarkson until halfway through the first period, yet he maintained his interest and held the Golden Knights scoreless until a Tim Marks power-play goal with 3:40 to play.
Richie LeVeau of Clarkson had 46 saves in the game and twice stopped UMD breakaways.
“Our guys were flawless in taking care of the puck,” said Reiter. “There might’ve been just two times all night when their forwards got behind our defense. And it was tough to be smooth with the puck because the ice was soft and bumpy.”
Jack Connolly’s second goal of the game, with 9:06 left in the second period, came from the right edge of the crease. Winger Justin Fontaine had two assists in the game and is tied for the team scoring lead with seven goals and five assists for 12 points. The Connollys and Fontaine were put on the same line this week at practice.
After Clarkson got within 3-1, Drew Akins scored into an empty net with 53 seconds to go. The Bulldogs are 4-1 at home entering today’s 7:07 p.m. rematch.
“We were good around the net, we blocked shots, we pressured the puck, we had a lot of chances,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “That was a good effort and I was happy for how well [Reiter] played.”