Athletes work toward, reach milestonesThe University of Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team has lost just one game since Oct. 15 when the Bulldogs fell to rival University of Minnesota. The loss was Jan. 14, in a conference game against the University of Nebraska Omaha.
By: Sarah Packingham, for the Duluth Budgeteer News
UMD goaltender is key during unbeaten streak
Recently, the University of Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team broke a school record, while its starting goalie is attempting to break an individual record by season's end. And on what ended up being a very lucky Friday the 13th, Lakeview Christian Academy junior Anders Broman scored and surpassed 3,000 points in his career, making him the youngest player in Minnesota history to do so.
The University of Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team has lost just one game since Oct. 15 when the Bulldogs fell to rival University of Minnesota. The loss was Jan. 14, in a conference game against the University of Nebraska Omaha.
They returned to Amsoil Arena Jan. 20 for the first time since Nov. 19, sweeping non-conference opponent Alabama Huntsville.
Much of their success has come due to the effort put forth by senior goaltender Kenny Reiter.
As the last line of defense for the Bulldogs, Reiter’s strong play this season has kept the Bulldogs in games and helped lead them in the best unbeaten streak in school history, 17 games.
Early in the season, which included being swept by the University of Minnesota, the Bulldogs were searching to find their identity, but that is no longer the case, Reiter said.
“It’s safe to say we've figured that out,” he said.
Reiter was quick to say that he doesn’t let nerves get to him, even at those jittery moments before the game.
“No, not too much anymore,” he said. “Earlier in my career, I’d say the nerves were there, but since I’ve been playing a lot the past two years, I’ve grown accustomed to it.”
A number of athletes are superstitious and believe that traditions must be followed exactly to ensure the continued success of a team. Reiter is not one of them.
“There's not really a ritual, but there is the same schedule for us on game days,” he explained. “We wake up, have breakfast, have a pre-game skate, go back to the hotel, do a video session, eat our pregame meal, take an hour-nap and then we're off to the rink.”
With two home series back-to-back, the players looked forward to the fan support that has been so strong in recent years, as well as the chance to sleep in their own beds for a weekend instead of a hotel, Reiter said.
This season there is already a number of memorable moments for Bulldog players and fans alike.
“My highlight would have to be eclipsing the 14-game unbeaten streak that UMD had held previously,” Reiter said. "That 15th win was the highlight not only for me, but for our team as a whole. We set a new record for teams down the road, to give them something to strive for. That’s something we’re proud of thus far.”"
One personal goal is to break the school shutout record. He’s currently tied among UMD goalies all-time.
Looking ahead, Reiter and his teammates are not able to look past anybody, and every game they face will be tough in its own respect.
“I think we have a good opportunity to make it to where we were last year,” Reiter said. “It's the cohesiveness.”
Reiter described his team as having three different units: offensive, defensive and goaltending.
“We’re pretty complete,” he said. “If one part has struggled, another part has picked it up. We’re really balanced.”
A native of Pittsburg, Reiter is one of the Bulldogs who is furthest away from home.
“UMD kind of chose me,” Reiter said.
“I moved away at 15 to pursue hockey because there weren’t a lot of opportunities for me and a lot of the players in the Pittsburg area unless you made the decision to move elsewhere. It was something my brother did when he was 16 and I looked up to him. Luckily, it ended up for me playing at UMD.”
Reiter had nothing but good things to say about his experiences and four years in Duluth.
“I love it here, but it can get a bit cold in the winter,” he said. “It’s a city that’s not too big. The people have been great: not just the people around the campus, but around the community. They have been nothing but supportive.
“We’re really lucky with how we get treated in the community and how the people kind of look to us as role models; that’s something I appreciate. It’s been a great experience. It’s going to be tough to pack up and leave."
And we hope, for Reiter and the Bulldog faithful, that he will not be leaving without a second shot at a national championship under his belt.
Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes a weekly sports column for the Budgeteer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org