HOUGHTON, Mich. — Looking to extend their 10-game unbeaten streak, the No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs used three third-period points from captain Jack Connolly in picking up a 5-3 win at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena Friday night against the No. 20 Michigan Tech Huskies.
Connolly finished the night with two goals and an assist.
“Jack has been our best player for the last month and a half,” said Bulldogs’ coach Scott Sandelin. “He’s a pretty special player.”
Connolly scored what would stand as the game-winning tally for the defending national champions 7:57 into the final frame when he crashed the net on a power play. Winger J.T. Brown fed the puck across the goalmouth and it hit Connolly before dropping behind Huskies’ goaltender Josh Robinson. Assistant captain Brady Lamb also assisted on the goal.
The Huskies (8-6-1 overall, 5-5-1 WCHA) had the first good scoring chance a little over three minutes in when sophomore center Dennis Rix fired a long shot from the faceoff circle to Kenny Reiter’s left. The Bulldogs’ goalie was equal to the task, making one of his 27 saves for the game.
“Kenny’s been arguably one of our best players,” said Sandelin. “Last year, he proved he could win the big games.”
With Huskies’ freshman winger David Johnstone off for hooking, the Bulldogs started getting pucks through to Josh Robinson, but the Huskies’ senior was ready for everything the Bulldogs threw at him. He finished the night with 30 saves on 35 Bulldogs’ shots.
The Bulldogs (10-3-2 overall, 8-2-1 WCHA) opened scoring in the middle frame just 2:21 in when winger Dan DeLisle redirected a shot from defenseman Drew Olson past Robinson with an apparent high stick. Video review vindicated DeLisle. Brown also assisted on the goal.
Looking to even things up, the Huskies buzzed around Reiter’s net, but couldn’t buy a goal when senior winger Alex MacLeod took the puck behind the net and fed David Johnstone, whose shot was snagged out of the air.
The Huskies did even things up at 6:45 after a great individual effort by sophomore winger Milos Gordic. Gordic took a pass in his own end from sophomore defenseman Daniel Sova, raced down the right side of the rink, and fired a shot at Reiter, who kicked the rebound back out front to Gordic again. Gordic knocked his second shot in for his seventh goal of the season, with assistant captain Jordan Baker also assisting on the goal.
“I thought we got off to a slow start,” said Huskies’ coach Mel Pearson. “I thought we picked things up in the second period in the first 10-12 minutes.”
Sustaining their pressure, the Huskies scored again just 1:24 later when MacLeod blasted a long shot from the point that eluded Reiter. Freshman center Tanner Kero and assistant captain Steven Seigo assisted on the goal after Kero made a great pass to MacLeod at the left point.
“UMD came out and they got the first goal,” said Huskies’ captain Brett Olson. “I think we kind of realized that we needed to start playing a little better than we were; that’s something that we need to see from ourselves right away from the start of the puck drop at the beginning of the game.”
Sandelin burned his timeout in order to stop the bleeding and rally his troops.
Bulldogs’ winger Joe Basabara tied the game late in the second period when he redirected a shot from assistant captain Brady Lamb at 15:55. Lamb, who took a pass from winger Mike Seidel, fired his shot from the left point.
On a Huskies’ third period power play, while they were looking to tie the game, Bulldogs’ winger Keegan Flaherty got behind the defense and beat Robinson with a short-handed goal at 12:37.
After Reiter took a penalty with 1:31 remaining, the Huskies pulled Robinson in favor of an extra skater. David Johnstone unloaded a long slap shot that beat Reiter over the left shoulder at 18:47. Seigo and captain Brett Olson assisted on the goal.
Pearson called his timeout after the goal. The Huskies pulled Robinson again as soon as they could, but this time the move backfired as Connolly grabbed the puck near the Huskies’ blue line and attempted to hit Brown crashing the net. The puck skittered past Brown and into the empty goal at 19:30.
Video: Michigan Tech’s Alex MacLeod
Video: Michigan Tech’s Brett Olson
Video: Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson