UMD's Easy Reiter
by Justin Magill/CHN Writer
Within the first 10 minutes of the first round of the East Regional, Minnesota-Duluth had found itself in the penalty box three times and had to face Union’s top-ranked power play.
Somehow the Bulldogs survived, shut out Union and took down No. 1 seed Yale the following night to gain a berth in the Frozen Four.
One man who kept Minnesota-Duluth in the game was goalie Kenny Reiter, who stopped 12 shots in the opening period against Union. Thinking about whether his team would survive against the best power play unit in the country if someone told him that would be the case before the puck dropped, Reiter admitted the task would be daunting.
“Probably not,” he said. “They have the best power play in the nation, so if you look at the statistics, they should have scored three times. Our defense blocked a lot of shots and the ones they didn’t block, they gave me a good look at.”
Reiter ended up stopping all 32 shots he faced and got help from his teammates as the Bulldogs found a way to kill off all nine penalties they took.
More of the same came against Yale, with the top seed unloading 33 shots on goal, Reiter keeping 30 of them out of the Bulldogs' goal.
“I think he was really solid for us,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said. “You don’t want to start the tournament killing off three straight penalties, but that is what we had to do and Kenny was a big part of that.”
Reiter is a goalie who likes to see the puck early to get involved in the game. In the two regional games he faced 26 combined shots in the first period and did not allow a goal.
“Sometimes during the season I would go 10 minutes without seeing a shot because our team is so talented offensively and are great with possessing the puck," Reiter said. "It just keeps you involved in the game.”
“Most goalies like to see the puck, some shots and Kenny saw a lot early on against Union,” Sandelin added. “Seeing that many, I don’t know, but he was great for us, outstanding, as he has been all season for us.”
Reiter has compiled a 14-7-5 record this season with a 2.29 goals against and a .914 save-percentage. For most of the season, he split time in net with freshman Aaron Crandall, who had an impressive start to his collegiate career.
There was no jealousy between the two, in fact, it was a healthy competition for one of the top teams in the nation.
“He’s a hell of a competitor,” Reiter said of Crandall. “One-hunderd percent all the time, and that pushes you to be better.”
There were times when Crandall had to come in and relieve Reiter, notably back in November when the Bulldogs left Madison with a sweep in two overtime victories. In the series opener, Reiter allowed 3 goals on 5 shots in the first period.
Crandall took the crease for the rest of the weekend.
“That was fine,” Reiter said. “We have always had each other’s back.”
Sandelin and the coaching staff split time between Reiter and Crandall until late in the season when Reiter seized control during the stretch run.
He was solid in the WCHA first round against St. Cloud State, which Minnesota-Duluth swept the Huskies in two games. After a tough overtime loss in the Final Five to Bemidji State, Reiter went on lockdown mode in the East Regional.
“At the end we went with Kenny and he played well,” Sandelin said. “I think it made it easier for both knowing Kenny would be starting. He earned it and you saw why with his performance out East.
“I think any goalie will tell you they want to start and our guys are extremely competitive, but are supportive. Kenny is the hot guy in net right now and is playing like he belongs there.”
With the Frozen Four just 2 1/2 hours South of Duluth, Reiter will have a chance to bring home the Bulldogs' first national championship home in what would be a short trip back. Minnesota-Duluth will take on Notre Dame, also in search of its first title, in what is expected to be a tight battle.
Both have goal scorers and confident goalies, but the Bulldogs have some drive left in them from a couple of years ago.
“We’re really excited to be in it,” Reiter said. “Especially with it being home for us and should have fans coming down. We were close a couple of years ago losing to Miami in Minneapolis, so we have some unfinished business left.”
As long as long Reiter plays like he did in the East Regional, the Bulldogs will have a chance to take care of business.