DULUTH, Minn. — Minnesota Duluth’s margin of winning or losing has been extremely narrow through the first third of the season.
Entering Saturday’s home game with Michigan Tech, eight of UMD’s 11 games had been decided by two goals or less. The cumulative goal differential favored the Bulldogs only slightly, 34-32 (in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play, opponents led UMD 23-21). Three UMD victories were by one goal.
The No. 18 Bulldogs, expecting another tight battle, instead found their scoring touch and dispatched Michigan Tech 8-1 before a DECC crowd of 4,478. A four-goal second period, including two scores by winger Justin Fontaine on the way to a four-goal night, broke a two-game losing streak and gave UMD its most one-sided league win since an 8-1 victory over Alaska Anchorage in October of 2003.
UMD (7-4-1 and 4-3-1 WCHA) outshot Michigan Tech 48-18 and, for the two games, 98-37. The win came one night after a 3-2 loss.
“We were bound to score if we kept up the same work ethic we had Friday,” said Fontaine, who had five points Saturday. “We came out with a killer instinct, we had the power play working, and we didn’t let up.”
Fontaine had gone six games without a goal, but came up with his first four-goal game since he could remember, and now has 11 goals and seven assists for 18 points in 12 games. He had no four-goal games with Bonnyville in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Sophomore defenseman Brady Lamb added two goals and goalie Brady Hjelle earned the win for a 5-2-1 mark this season. UMD’s power play was four-of-eight and seven-of-12 for the series. The Huskies (3-7 and 2-6 WCHA) lost for the seventh time in nine games.
“Give Duluth credit, they played well,” said Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell. “Our goalies weren’t as steady tonight and Duluth’s shots were finding their way into the net. We had players battling the flu, then lost [Ryan Bunger] to a concussion in the first period and Drew Dobson to a major in the second period. We were down to 10 forwards, but Duluth just really played well.”
Michigan Tech freshman goalie Kevin Genoe, the star Friday with 48 saves, left in the second period Saturday with a 3-0 deficit.
The second period sank the Huskies. Fontaine scored on a power play from the right circle at 2:43, Lamb from the left point on a power play at 5:58, Fontaine on a rebound with 5:32 left (at the end of a five-minute power play) and Fontaine at the right of the Michigan Tech net with 2:02 left in an even-strength shift.
Just 28 seconds into the third period, Mike Connolly finished off a power play and finished with a goal and four assists, to match Fontaine with five points, one from the team single-game record. Fontaine, who scored his last two goals while falling down, connected with 8:48 to play
“We did everything right Friday except win; we just wanted to keep getting pucks to the net and get to the goalie,” said Connolly. “And if you keep getting [Fontaine] the puck in the slot, he’s going to score. He’s a pure goal scorer.”
Michigan Tech scoring leader Brett Olson, a sophomore center from Superior, broke UMD’s shutout bid with 6:49 to play on his fifth goal of the season.
UMD was trying to forget about Friday, the second time the Bulldogs had vastly outshot a team at the DECC. The Bulldogs outshot Clarkson 50-17 on Oct. 30 and won 4-1, then outshot Michigan Tech 50-19 and lost 3-2. Through 12 games, UMD leads opponents in shots on goal 462-345.
“It was nice to see us get an early lead, play a good second period and play unselfishly,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “We got rolling and just played a good team game.”
UMD goes on the road this week for Friday and Saturday games against Minnesota at Mariucci Arena.