Unsung players factor big for Minnesota-Duluth, Michigan

Kyle Schmidt, Friday’s recipient of the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award, is no longer too unsung after his title-clinching goal Saturday night.

One of his teammates though, came out of nowhere to provide Minnesota-Duluth with a big goal in a big spot.

 (Tim Brule)
Michigan's Matt Rust breaks his stick on a shot while being defended by Mike Montgomery (photo: Melissa Wade).

Max Tardy, a freshman who hadn’t scored a goal in his college career, has skated on UMD’s second power play unit since Schmidt went down with an injury in the regional finals two weeks ago.

The Bulldogs kept him on the power play, despite Schmidt’s return, and in a tie game Saturday, he found himself in the right place at the right time.

“I know my teammates and my coaches have a lot of confidence in me, putting me out on the power play,” Tardy said. “I was just trying to stay calm and act like I was playing junior hockey.”

Tardy took the puck from behind the net to the side of the goal and took a shot. The initial shot was saved, but he buried the rebound for his first goal in his 26th collegiate game.

“The last few weeks, we practiced him [on the power play],” said Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin. “He certainly has good skill level. He sees the ice. You’ll probably see him [on the power play a lot next year].”

Saturday was the fifth time no members of UMD’s “big three,” Jack Connolly, Justin Fontaine, and Mike Connolly, didn’t score a goal. The last time it happened was in a March 4 win against Nebraska-Omaha. The Bulldogs are 3-2-1 when none of the three score.

Kyle Schmidt entered the Frozen Four with nine goals and left with 11.

Michigan also got scoring from some unlikely sources in its two games in St. Paul. The combined total goals scored by the guys that scored for the Wolverines at the Frozen Four: eight, not including Scooter Vaughan’s empty-netter Friday.

Ben Winnett scored the game-winner in the first period in the semifinals against North Dakota and put the Wolverines on the board against UMD for his fourth and fifth goals of the season.

“Ben Winnett had a great weekend,” said Michigan’s Louie Caporusso. “If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if we would have been in the final game. Guys go unnoticed. Those guys win championships. They’re in the shadows.”

Jeff Rohrkemper’s game-tying goal in the second period was his third goal of the season.

“I think the top players just neutralized each other throughout the game, and it’s an unsuspected or unsung hero that scores the goal,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson.