March 14, 2009

The end of the 2008-09 regular season may not have gone according to plan for the University of Minnesota Duluth, but the postseason certainly has gotten off to a rousing start.

The No. 19 Bulldogs opened up Western Collegiate Hockey Association play Friday night by derailing Colorado College 4-1 in Colorado Springs, Colo. to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three opening round series with the No. 14 Tigers. UMD, which closed out the regular season with three straight losses, got goals from four of its major 2008-09 contributors -- senior defenseman Josh Meyers, senior center MacGregor Sharp, junior left wingr Jordan Fulton and sophomore right winger Justin Fontaine -- and a stellar puckstopping performance from junior goaltender Alex Stalock while moving to 17-12-8 on the season.

UMD took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission on power play goals by both Meyers (his 10th tally of the season, all of which have come with the man advantage) and Sharp (his team-leading 20th goal this winter and sixth in the last four games), It added to that lead at the 7:21 mark of the second when Fulton ripped a shot from between the faceoff circles through the leg pads of Colorado College netminder Richard Bachman for his 12th goal of 2008-09. Eric Walsky put the Tigers on the scoreboard eight minutes later with a goal just before time had expired on Meyers' penalty, but Fontaine answered for UMD 3:52 into the third with his 15th goal and team-leading 45th point of the year. Mike Connolly picked up a pair of assists to extend his personal scoring streak to nine games, equaling a Bulldog season high and fellow rookie forward Jack Connolly also set up two goals.

Stalock, the 2008-09 WCHA goals against average champion, finished with 36 saves en route to posting his first WCHA playoff victory while Bachman was credited with 35 stops, including 17 in the final period of play when his Tigers (16-11-10 overall) were outshot 18-9.

UMD will look to secure its fourth WCHA Final Five tournament berth in eight years Saturday when the two teams square off at 8:07 p.m. CST.