Lamb Roars Into March
by Eric Stromgren/CHN Writer
DULUTH, Minn. Minnesota-Duluth senior Brady Lamb could not remember the last time he scored two goals in a game.
He showed off an easy smile when he joked about a missed opportunity after Minnesota-Duluth's 4-2 win over Minnesota State on Friday night in Game 1 of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.
"I should have probably picked up that puck," said Lamb, UMD's alternate captain. "We'll take goals from the defense when we can get them. Any time we can chip in offensively is helpful. It's fun to get the goals but it's really not our focus on defense."
Lamb's last and only other two-goal game of his collegiate career was against Michigan Tech as a sophomore in 2009.
His goals against Mankato, both on shots from the blue line, extended his point streak to five games. He has seven points in the streak on three goals and four assists.
"In that stretch we've talked about keeping it simple and that's applied to myself as well," Lamb said. "Just getting the puck up the ice, down low in the zone and a lot of those points are assists. So you know the forwards are doing their job."
His first goal Friday night came on a low slap shot to put UMD ahead 2-1 a minute into the second period. His second goal came on a shot deflected by Mankato's Matt Leitner at the top of the circle midway through the third period. The puck dived at the net and through Mavericks goalie Austin Lee to put the Bulldogs ahead for good, 3-2, with 11:58 left in the game.
Lamb plays a versatile role for the Bulldogs at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds. He uses his size to be effective in defensive zone corners and contributes offensively on the power play. Half of Lamb's points this season (28) are on the power play (14).
The additional offense over the last month pleases head coach Scott Sandelin.
"It seems like every time around February he starts to really pick up his game and I think we're seeing the same thing," UMD head coach Scott Sandelin said. "You need that (offense) out of your older guys, your captains and I think Brady has stepped up his game over the last month. He's played very well for us. We need some leadership back there and he's that guy."
Lamb, a Calgary native, talked about his growth as a player since coming to Duluth. In and out of the lineup as a freshman, he returned motivated and was second only to Wisconsin's Brendan Smith in goals among defenseman (11) as a sophomore.
But the Bulldogs did not reach the NCAA Tournament that season. He came back as a junior and he played behind current Carolina Hurricanes rookie Justin Faulk on the power play for the national champion Bulldogs.
"Going into this year, I'm just trying to keep it simple," Lamb said. "I'm not relied on to score 20-30 goals a year, the forwards are. so If I just put the puck in their hands and try to keep the puck out of our net, I'm doing something right."
Lamb teams with junior Wade Bergman on UMD's top defensive pairing. The two grew up less than five miles apart in Calgary but did not get a chance to play together until Bergman attended UMD.
Dubbed the 'Calgary Connection' in the Bulldog locker room, the two at times can be forgotten men in a UMD team defined by offense.
"He's (Lamb) so strong and good with the puck — it's easy to play with him," Bergman said. "I just try to give him some support and stay back. All around he's just so strong. Obviously he has the hard shot, he's a big guy and he gets a lot of power on that puck. But defensively he's sound and there's not much getting by him."
When Lamb scores a goal this season, the Bulldogs are unbeaten at 5-0-3. UMD is 17-3-3 when he scores a point and all those points all start when Lamb leans into one of those slap shots.
"I wouldn't say it's much of a science," Lamb said. "More so it's just however I can get it away from the blue line and deep in their zone so we can be successful."