BURLINGTON, Vt. — Minnesota-Duluth combined a strong performance by sophomore goalie Kenny Reiter and a solid second period to defeat Mercyhurst College of Erie, Pa., 6-0 Saturday afternoon in the first round of the Catamount Cup at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt. It was the first meeting in men’s hockey between the schools.
The No. 12-ranked Bulldogs (12-6-1) face host Vermont in Sunday’s 6 p.m. championship game. Mercyhurst (9-10-2) plays in the 3 p.m. third-place game.
Reiter made 26 saves for his first collegiate shutout (UMD’s first this season) and the Bulldogs broke from a 1-0 lead with three goals in the second period from Kyle Schmidt, Brady Lamb and Justin Fontaine. Both teams were playing after three weeks off.
“We were a little rough-looking at the start of the game, but in the third period we played much better defensively,” said Reiter. “We pressured the puck well in the offensive zone for the whole game. It was a good performance, but we can play better.”
Mercyhurst, co-leader in Atlantic Hockey, came into the tournament 7-0-1 in their last eight games, the second-best unbeaten streak in Division I. The Lakers had allowed just nine goals total in that streak, led by junior goalie Ryan Zapolski. Sophomore center Travis Oleksuk gave UMD the only goal it needed with 6:31 left in the first period.
Fontaine finished with a goal and two assists and is tied with Jack Connolly for the team scoring lead with 27 points in 18 games, while Rob Bordson and Lamb each had a goal and an assist, and Jordan Fulton had two assists.
“We got pucks to the net, we moved our feet and we cycled the puck well,” said Bordson. “There weren’t a lot of fans in the building, but we didn’t pay attention to that and fed off of good plays from all of our lines.”
Each of UMD’s lines had a goal, with five of the six at even strength, as UMD led 41-26 in shots on goal. Lamb was credited with a short-handed score that went off a Mercyhurst defender. The Bulldogs survived a five-on-three Mercyhurst power play in the second period.
The Bulldogs outshot Mercyhurst 9-3 in the third period.
“Kenny’s performance and the fact that we got rolling in the second period, a period we haven’t done well in this season, made the difference in the game,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “It was a good way to start the New Year.”
The six goals matched a season high for goals allowed by Mercyhurst. UMD has scored six goals in each of the last two games.