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College Hockey:
Connolly, Brown, notch goal and two assists as Minnesota-Duluth sweeps Minnesota State

— Even though New Year’s Day is still 42 days away, Minnesota-Duluth bid farewell to Amsoil Arena for 2011 on Saturday night. And the No. 8 Bulldogs went out in style

Four second-period goals on four shots in 96 seconds powered UMD to a 7-3 victory over Minnesota State-Mankato in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s game before a crowd of 6,453 celebrating fans.

The Bulldogs (9-3-2 and 7-2-1 WCHA) added to their Division I-best unbeaten mark of 8-0-2, 10 games without a loss since October 15. Seven players scored for UMD in finishing a weekend sweep by a combined score of 12-5.

A 10-goal game was produced despite a scoreless first period.

“Once we got five-on-five and got some flow, we were opportunistic on our shots,” said freshman winger Justin Crandall, who scored UMD’s first goal. “We tried to throw everything we could at their net, and you could see their goalie (Phil Cook) get flustered. A game like this shows the kind of firepower we have.”

Mankato’s Mavericks (3-9 and 2-6) didn’t know what hit them in the opening three minutes of the second period. Crandall started it at 1:40 at the lower edge of the left circle, following a David Grun pass. J.T. Brown connected from nearly the same spot, on a power play, 17 seconds later.

Then freshman Caleb Herbert’s third goal in two games came at 2:52, and winger Joe Basaraba completed the barrage at 3:16.

Cook (0-3) left after facing 11 shots and making seven saves, none in the second period. Austin Lee, Friday’s starter, was his replacement.

“You can’t let four pucks go in the net on four shots,” said Mankato coach Troy Jutting. “But they’re a team that hasn’t lost in 10 games and with our situation (with so many injuries), things have to go right to be successful, and things didn’t go right.

“And we wore down and we did that to ourselves by going to the penalty box. That’s stupid. They’re way too good to play using just four players.”

Mankato was called for 13 penalties for 48 minutes, including five-minute major penalties to Joe Schiller and Mike Louwerse, two converted forwards playing defense.

As quick as the four goals came, in 1:36, the feat wasn’t a UMD record. The Bulldogs scored four in 1:19 on December 17, 1971 in a 15-3 win at Minnesota, nearly 40 years ago.  How quick were they? UMD coach Scott Sandelin said he missed seeing two.

“We had a better start to the game, compared to Friday. It was just a better effort overall,” said Sandelin, now with 201 career wins in 12 seasons. “We got the quick goals, got the lead, and when Mankato did score, we responded.”

Matt Leitner broke goalie Kenny Reiter’s shutout bid at 5:19 of the second period and Max Gaede’s first collegiate goal 43 seconds into the third period, on a power play, got the Mavericks within 4-2.

Centers Jack Connolly and Jack Hendrickson provided goals 70 seconds apart less than three minutes later and the lead was 6-2. UMD led in shots on goal 37-25, and finished with three power-play goals. Connolly and Brown each had a goal and two assists. Freshman defenseman Chris Casto went off the ice in the game’s opening minute, but afterward an injury was termed minor.

“It wasn’t a pretty game, but we were more consistent for 60 minutes,” said UMD senior defenseman Brady Lamb.

The win kept UMD second in the WCHA, one point behind first-place Minnesota. UMD is off this weekend and next plays December 2, at Michigan Tech. The Bulldogs don’t play at home again until January 20-21, against Alabama-Huntsville.

In the first full year of play at Amsoil Arena, which opened December 30, 2010, UMD is 12-7-2, including six straight victories.

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