The final college playoff game in the DECC’s 44 years is sending Minnesota Duluth to the Xcel Energy Center in style.
The No. 16-ranked Bulldogs stopped No. 19 Colorado College 4-0 Sunday night in the deciding game of a best-of-three Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s first round series before ,3402 fans.
Catalyst Kyle Schmidt, fully recovered from an arm injury, scored before the game was three minutes old, the Bulldogs added a couple of power-play goals and goalie Kenny Reiter earned his third shutout of the season (and the second by 4-0 at home).
UMD (22-16-3) next faces No. 5 North Dakota in the WCHA Final Five play-in game Thursday night in St. Paul. Colorado College (19-17-3) finished the season 2-5 against UMD, including 1-4 at the DECC.
“What we needed was to have everyone just give 5 percent more [than in Saturday’s 5-3 loss]. And we had to come into this game expecting to win. That’s the attitude we need and that’s what we had,” said Schmidt, who has 11 goals. “This was one of our best team wins.”
Lamb had a goal and two assists, Justin Fontaine had three assists and Reiter made 25 saves. UMD finished 14-8 at home. The Bulldogs start the 2010-11 season in the DECC and move to the expansion rink Dec. 30.
UMD scored the game’s first goal for a third straight night, as Cody Danberg kicked the puck to Schmidt for a backhand attempt into an open net past freshman goalie Joe Howe at 2:39, and the Bulldogs used that as a spark. For the series, they were 6-of-17 on power plays.
Each team would lose a defenseman to a five-minute checking-from-behind penalty, but because the Tigers were playing only four for much of the series, it was a blow. Tigers defenseman Gabe Guentzel was out of the game with 3:46 to go in the second period. UMD lost Chad Huttel in the first period.
“Penalties kept us out of sync and we couldn’t get much flow,” said Colorado College coach Scott Owens. “Part of it was playing in a third game and more tired players were making more mistakes. We weren’t manufacturing any good scoring chances.”
Owens pointed to a UMD 5-on-3 power play late in the second period as a turning point. The Bulldogs were already up 2-0 on Lamb’s drive from the right circle at 5:26 of the period. Then Guentzel hit Schmidt from behind and defenseman Nate Prosser hit UMD’s Jack Connolly with a cross-check one minute later.
Winger Rob Bordson took a Fontaine pass and scored from in front with 16.9 seconds left in the second, with a two-man advantage, then Mike Connolly needed just 46 seconds of the third period to finish a power-play chance from the slot. Two goals in 63 seconds and Howe had taken the brunt of the attack.
“Our plan was to play defense first and keep them off the scoreboard,” said Lamb, with 11 goals this season to lead UMD’s defensemen. “We wanted to cycle the puck as much as we could and body them as much as we could, and wear them down. That’s what you want, especially in a three-game series.”
Colorado College, sixth place in the regular season, outshot UMD 25-22, but many shots came late in the game. Reiter’s best stop came on center Matt Overman with 5:40 remaining. He’s 3-1 his last four starts.
UMD’s last four home WCHA playoff series have been three-game victories. The others were over Minnesota State-Mankato in 2004, St. Cloud State in 2003 and Minnesota in 1998. The Bulldogs have won four of five best-of-three series since the format began in 1987-88. Colorado College has been eliminated in the WCHA’s first round four of the last five years, including two losses at home last season to UMD. The Tigers, in Duluth for the playoffs for the first time, went 2-7 the final nine games this season.
“Our power play came through, Kenny was great, our first goal got us going, our fourth goal gave us a boost, and our third period was very good,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin, whose team is 8-2-1 the last 11 games versus the Tigers. “We got back to playing four lines and finally got to Howe.”
North Dakota eliminated Minnesota 4-1 in a deciding game Sunday in Grand Forks, N.D. UMD and North Dakota tied for fourth in the league in the regular season. North Dakota led UMD 3-1 in games this season.
Colorado College ………..0-0-0—0
First period – 1. UMD, Kyle Schmidt 11 (Cody Danberg, Drew Akins), 2:39. Penalties – Matt Overman, Colorado College (roughing), :06; Joe Marciano, Colorado College (holding), 4:48; Danberg, UMD (slashing), 7:39; Andrew Hamburg, Colorado College (tripping), 11:27; Chad Huttel, UMD (5-minute checking from behind major, served by Mike Seidel, game misconduct), 13:50; Dylan Olsen, UMD (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:28; Mike Testwuide, Colorado College (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:28; Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College (contact to head), 14;28; Bill Sweatt, Colorado College (interference), 18:02; Testwuide, Colorado College (unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:39; Mike Connolly, UMD (hit after whistle), 19:39; Travis Oleksuk, UMD (contact to head), 19:39.
Second period – 2. UMD, Brady Lamb 11 (Justin Fontaine, Jack Connolly), 5:26; 3. UMD, Rob Bordson 12 (Fontaine, Lamb), 19:43 (5×3 pp). Penalties – Bordson, UMD (contact to head), 5:26; Marciano, Colorado College (contact to head), 12:55; Jordan Fulton, UMD (goalie interference), 14:32; Gabe Guentzel, Colorado College, 5-minute checking from behind major, served by Tim Hall, game misconduct), 17:16; Nate Prosser, cross-checking), 18:17.
Third period – 4. UMD, Mike Connolly 14 (Fontaine, Lamb), :46 (pp). Penalties – Fulton, UMD (charging), 9:00; Akins, UMD (high sticking), 17:26.
Shots on goal – Colorado College 9-6-10–25; UMD 4-11-7–22. Goalies – Joe Howe (17-15-3), Colorado College (22 shots-18 saves); Kenny Reiter (13-9), UMD (25 shots-25 saves). Power plays – Colorado College 0-of-7; UMD 2-of-8. Referees – Todd Anderson, Brad Shepherd. Assistants – Tony Czech, Dan Dineen. A – 3,402.