DULUTH, Minn. — The Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s 2010 scoring champion won’t be crowned for two months, but picking a Minnesota-Duluth player at midseason wouldn’t be a bad idea.
After 16 games of the 28-game league schedule, four Bulldogs lead the scoring in WCHA play.
The offensive leaders for the No. 11-ranked Bulldogs added to their totals in a 4-1 victory over No. 3 Colorado College before 4,620 fans Saturday night at the DECC to sweep their weekend series. Jack Connolly had two goals, Mike Connolly a goal and an assist, Justin Fontaine two assists and Rob Bordson an assist.
UMD’s top line is tied for the No. 1 scoring spot in league games with 22 points each — Fontaine (12 goals, 10 assists), Jack Connolly (10-12) and Mike Connolly (6-16). Winger Bordson is next with 19 (2-17).
They helped shut down a good Colorado College team for a second straight night, allowing just 19 shots on goal each game.
“This was one of our most compete games,” said Mike Connolly. “We had a slow start Friday, but we wanted to let [Colorado College] know it would be in for a long night [Saturday]. We’re on the right path of becoming a good team.”
UMD (14-7-1 and 10-5-1) has three WCHA sweeps this season and is 6-1-1 the last eight games against the Tigers. Colorado College (12-7-3 and 8-5-3) was held to one-for-11 on power plays, while UMD was five-of-11.
Kenny Reiter gained his third straight win in goal for UMD, holding a shutout until less than five minutes remained. Winger Kyle Schmidt was again a catalyst, scoring 6:01 into the game for his 10th of the season.
“Duluth’s top three forwards are high-end players, but they have so much more,” said Colorado College coach Scott Owens. “They block shots, play hard and take away the ice. We didn’t get a chance to show much because they played well. We played better tonight, but so did they.”
The Tigers came to Duluth with no league losses on the road and having lost by no more than one goal this season. They were outscored 9-3 and outshot 55-28 at the DECC.
Schmidt used his speed to catch up with Bordson’s pass up left wing and connected from the left edge of the crease past goalie Joe Howe for a 1-0 lead. The only goal of the second period came on a UMD power play with 6:26 left. Jack Connolly, alone in the slot, drove a shot for a 2-0 lead.
“[Colorado College] is a good team and they kept coming at us, but we didn’t allow them to establish a forecheck,” said Reiter. “And we buried our chances.”
A Mike Connolly wraparound goal with 9:17 to play gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead, Rylan Schwartz broke Reiter’s shutout bit with 4:02 left on a power play, and Jack Connolly countered with a power-play goal with 1:43 to play, his 15th goal of the season, tying Fontaine for the team lead.
The win left UMD alone in second place in the league with 21 points, two behind first place Denver. St. Cloud State jumped over the Tigers into third place and Colorado College dropped to fourth.
“We just had a good 60-minute game,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “Kenny played well, our penalty killers were important against a good power-play team. This performance ranks up there with the best games of the season. We held a good team to under 20 shots for two nights.”
League scoring leaders from UMD the past 17 years are Derek Plante in 1993, Chris Marinucci in 1994 and Junior Lessard in 2004.
UMD is at Minnesota State-Mankato this Friday and Saturday, while Colorado College hosts Wisconsin.