SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — How crazy was Minnesota-Duluth’s opening men’s hockey game of 2010-11? Crazy.
The No. 8 Bulldogs had to rally five times Friday to earn a 6-6 overtime tie with Lake Superior State in the first round of the fourth Superior Cup before 2,069 fans at Taffy Abel Arena.
UMD trailed 1-0 just 29 seconds into the game, came back for its only lead, 3-2, early in the second period, and ultimately needed Mike Connolly’s goal with 2:20 left in regulation to get even.
The Bulldogs and Lakers have now tied to open three of the last four seasons. UMD senior winger Justin Fontaine had two goals and two assists.
“We battled all game long and we got pucks to the net, and drove the net. We did that well,” Fontaine said. “We need to play more as a team and talk more, communicate. We had three freshmen in the lineup and some other guys who are being asked to do more this season, so some players have new roles. We’re still getting adjusted.”
Senior center Rick Schofield, Lake Superior State’s best player, had two goals and an assist for a team that went 4-of-9 on power plays. UMD led in shots on goal 38-37.
Neither team had more than a one-goal lead. Junior Kenny Reiter was in goal for UMD and senior Brian Mahoney-Wilson for Lake Superior State.
“I was pleased with our effort for a first game,” Lake Superior State coach Jim Roque said. “Good plays were made by both teams, although our goalie struggled.
“The Connolly-Fontaine line is dynamic. What can I say about them? They were good.”
Left winger Mike Connolly had a goal and two assists and center Jack Connolly had a goal and an assist. Add right winger Fontaine’s statistics, and the total was four goals and five assists for UMD’s top three returning scorers.
The score was 2-2 after one period and 4-4 after two, and it remained wildly back-and-forth in the third and the five-minute overtime. Lake Superior, picked ninth in the 11-team CCHA this season, went up 5-4 on defenseman Matt Cowie’s power-play goal 30 seconds into the period. UMD’s Mike Seidel tied it with 7:53 to go. Schofield hit on a power play with 6:23 remaining and Mike Connolly got the equalizer on a back-door shot from the right side of the net.
The Lakers hit the crossbar with less than a minute left in overtime, and Mahoney-Wilson had to glove Mike Connolly on a good attempt.
“A lot of the power-play goals hit off of things and changed directions, or I didn’t see,” Reiter said. “I couldn’t catch a break, but I need to get better.”
UMD (0-0-1) continues the weekend Superior Cup tournament at 7:35 p.m. Eastern on Saturday at Northern Michigan in Marquette, Mich. Lake Superior State remains home against Michigan Tech. Michigan Tech was at Northern Michigan on Friday. The Bulldogs are 3-1-3 in the Superior Cup.
The Lakers came into the season on a seven-game losing streak and were 1-10-1 to end 2009-10, all against the top five teams in the CCHA. They now have an eight-game winless streak at 0-7-1.
It was the first time since 1999 that UMD scored six goals in a regular-season game, yet didn’t win.
“It was a starting point for us and we showed some resiliency,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “Our penalty killing and our goaltending will need to improve, and we can’t be so inconsistent. In the first period our defense was horrid and in the second period we took too many penalties [including a checking-from-behind major to Travis Oleksuk, which led to a goal.]”
UMD tied for fourth in the WCHA last season and is picked third in the 12-team league in 2010-11.