Going into the weekend, Minn-Duluth averaged four goals a game, so holding them to one goal in two games was a terrific feat. Obviously, they are a very good hockey team. Their power play was second in the country going into the weekend, and was converting on 44 percent of their chances. We held them to one extra-man goal in six tries. The capacity crowds certainly played a part in the wins. It was huge opening for our season with a pair of wins over a quality opponent.
The first period on Friday night was scoreless even though we kept the puck in their defensive zone, and we did have two good scoring chances. Midway through the first period, we scored our first two goals of the season within 14 seconds. Sophomore forward Dalton Bancroft fired a laser from the right face-off circle and senior captain Kyle Penney unleashed a wrist shot at 11:24 of the opening period to make it 2-0 after one period of play.
Freshman forward Ryan Walsh made it 3-0 at 12:12 of the second period, redirecting a Bancroft shot while we were on the power play. Less than three minutes later, the visitors scored their 12th power-play goal of the season to send the game into the third period with the Big Red up, 3-1.
In the third period, junior forward Jack O’Leary added an insurance goal at 14:37 to make it 4-1. Bancroft, Walsh and O’Leary had two-point nights. Junior goaltender Ian Shane made 18 saves for us, and the Bulldogs goaltender stopped 25 shots. We were 2-for-5 on the power play and they were 1-for-3. This was a huge win for us. We didn’t back off in the third period and made it difficult for them to go 200 feet.
On Saturday night, the visitors came out flying and we had a bit of a slow start. We didn’t start with the hustle we showed the night before. Early on, we gave them a power play opportunity. Our penalty killers blocked a lot of shots and Ian made some nice saves, too.
We got on the scoreboard early in the second period as Penney took a great pass from Bancroft and tipped the puck into the net with freshman defenseman Ben Robertson receiving his first of two collegiate assists on the night. Two minutes later, senior forward Gabriel Seger scored the first of his two goals earning him the ECAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Just over a minute later on the power play, Seger made the score 3-0. Our defensemen did a tremendous job blocking shots all night long. We had 18 blocked shots before the third period. The guys were great in just sticking to it in the third, even when they faced a 6-on-4 power play near the end of the game. Shane and the penalty killers stood strong until time ran out, securing the shutout (Shane’s ninth).
Shane had 17 saves and was named ECAC Goaltender of the Week. The Minn-Duluth goalie stopped 12 shots. We were 1-for-3 on the power play and they were 0-for-3.
Next weekend we take our first road-trip: Friday at Yale for our ECAC and Ivy League opener, Saturday night at Brown. Hope you had an opportunity to see this exciting, young team this weekend and we look forward to another exciting season of Big Red Hockey.