DULUTH, Minn. — No. 3-ranked Colorado College hadn’t lost a road game in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in the first half of the season on the way to second place, and the Tigers hadn’t been handled by any opponent, with their five losses all by one goal each.
No. 13 Minnesota Duluth erased those statistics Friday night with a 5-2 victory over the Tigers in front of 3,958 fans at the DECC.
Now Colorado College has UMD as company in second place, just behind league-leading Denver. The Bulldogs (13-7-1 and 9-5-1 WCHA) fell behind 1-0 midway through the first period, got a spark from a Kyle Schmidt goal and scored four straight.
“We know [the Tigers] have good team speed and for 10 or 11 minutes we weren’t into the game; after that, our physical play and determination made the difference,” said Schmidt, a junior winger with nine goals this season. “We got shots on net and controlled the puck.”
UMD was three-of-six on power plays and held the WCHA’s top power play to 0-of-6. The Bulldogs led in shots on goal 27-19. The Mike Connolly-Jack Connolly-Justin Fontaine line had seven points, with Fontaine scoring twice, and Mike Connolly with a goal and two assists, and Jack Connolly two assists. Sophomore goalie Kenny Reiter earned his second straight win.
The Bulldogs are 5-1-1 in their last seven games against Colorado College, while the Tigers are 4-1-3 in league road games this season.
“It was just a bad night for us, an off night, and we’ve had very few of those,” said Colorado College coach Scott Owens. “If we could’ve gotten through the first period with a 1-0 lead, it might’ve been different. But you can’t give them that many power-play chances, because they’re skilled. We didn’t compete hard enough and they were better and deserved the win.”
Colorado College (12-6-3 and 8-4-3) went up 1-0 on a Stephen Schultz goal and Schmidt got the Bulldogs into the game with 2:l6 left in the first period. He drove the shot from the right circle to beat freshman goalie Joe Howe to the far side.
Three goals in 6:32 during the second period pushed the Bulldogs ahead to stay. Drew Akins scored from the crease at 4:31 on a power play, Mike Connolly connected from the inside edge of the left circle at 6:04 and Fontaine tipped a Jack Connolly power-play attempt with 8:57 left in the second.
“Our team motto is that we don’t lose two games in row; we haven’t been swept in a series, and it was important for us to win,” said Fontaine, whose team lost 5-2 at Vermont on Sunday. “This was a gritty game.”
Howe, with 11 wins this season, was replaced by Tyler O’Brien after the fourth UMD goal. The teams exchanged goals in the first three minutes of the third period. Bill Sweatt’s 10th goal of the season came at 44 seconds (on what Fontaine said was his defensive mistake) and Fontaine followed with his 15th at 2:25, scoring from his knees, whipping a shot high over O’Brien.
UMD outshot the Tigers 12-3 in the third period.
“Our last 40 minutes were pretty good,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “We were sleepwalking for a while, then went on a power play and got some momentum. We did a lot of good things in the second period and Fontaine’s goal [in the third period] was a big-time goal.”