UMD's Fontaine asked to shoot more
As good as his first half of the season was, Justin Fontaine may be asked for more starting today. Minnesota Duluth men's hockey coach Scott Sandelin would like his star sophomore right winger to shoot the puck more as the Bulldogs resume play af...
As good as his first half of the season was, Justin Fontaine may be asked for more starting today.
Minnesota Duluth men's hockey coach Scott Sandelin would like his star sophomore right winger to shoot the puck more as the Bulldogs resume play after a three-week holiday break.
Fontaine, from Bonnyville, Alberta, has received that request from other coaches and said he'll take Sandelin's advice seriously.
"It seems I always look to make a play first, I look for a better opportunity. My instinct is to pass," Fontaine said this week. "Coach lets me play that way, but I know he'd like more shots."
The Bulldogs (8-4-6) are in the inaugural Shillelagh Tournament at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., facing Massachusetts-Lowell (8-8) of Hockey East at 5:05 p.m. Fontaine enters the game with the best point-per-game average (1.39) among Western Collegiate Hockey Association players for all games -- nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points in 18 games.
That's 13 more points than he had in 35 games last season while being named UMD's rookie of the year. Getting off to a good start helped this season. Fontaine had an assist in UMD's second game, a 5-0 win at Northern Michigan, and the next weekend had five points in a home sweep of Western Michigan.
"He looks like someone with more confidence this season," said junior linemate Jordan Fulton, third in goal-scoring with seven. "You can tell Justin's not afraid to get into tough areas, through sticks and skates, and make plays. He's able to get to the net."
Fontaine, one of three right-handed shooters among UMD forwards, led the Bonnyville Pontiacs in scoring for two years in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, recording 71 and 81 points, respectively, with more than twice as many assists as goals each year.
He has received significant power-play time this season and has 15 points in man-advantage situations, including seven goals. Defenseman Josh Meyers has 16 power-play points as UMD ranks second among WCHA teams with a 22 percent power-play efficiency.
UMD's improved scoring overall from a year ago also has been helped by a relatively unchanged lineup during the team's present seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0-3). Freshman Jack Connolly is centering Fulton and Fontaine.
"Justin has such good offensive instincts and is with linemates who think the same way," Sandelin said. "He's good with the puck, has a deceiving shot and finishes plays."