March 16, 2012 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Seidel Becomes A Threat for Duluth

Shines as UMD Rallies, But Falls in 2 OT

by Dan Myers/CHN Staff

ST. PAUL, Minn. — For years, Minnesota-Duluth forward Jack Connolly had found comfort on a line with Mike Connolly and Justin Fontaine.

The trio formed one of the most explosive lines in all of college hockey, culminating in a national championship last season.

But when Fontaine graduated and Mike Connolly left early for the pros, Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin was left in a predicament: Who should play on a line with the remaining Connolly — a Hobey Baker Award top-10 finalist last season.

Enter Mike Seidel, a junior-to-be from Darien, Ill. A 73-point scorer his final season in the USHL, Seidel had amassed just 28 points in his first two years in Duluth. But Sandelin thought his gritty style would fit in well with Connolly, who excels at finding an open teammate.

"He's kind of a greasy guy," Sandelin said. "He's not going to wow-you with his speed but he's going to do a lot of the little things. He's good with his stick and he's going to get into the tougher areas and he's good around the net. That's what's made him successful.

"I know last year he was disappointed. He wanted to produce more. This year, he's gotten an opportunity to be in some different situations and he's doing that."

Friday afternoon, Seidel showed off his grittiness, getting the Bulldogs on the board midway through the second period. With the Bulldogs down 3-0, Seidel gathered in a loose puck in the crease, worked the puck around a sprawled Sam Brittain, and put the puck in the net on the power play before getting blasted to the ice by a Denver defenseman.

Three minutes later, he showed off his inner-sniper, picking the upper left corner on Brittain from the high slot to pull the 'Dogs within one. He nearly capped the hat trick at the second period horn too, but Brittain made a brilliant toe save.

Those kinds of man-advantage opportunities wouldn't have come last season and Seidel has taken advantage this year, who eclipsed the 30-point plateau with an assist on Connolly's game-tying goal in the third period.

"He's had a great year," Connolly said. "Kid has a lot of hockey-sense. He's a great linemate to play with. He finds the little areas and gets open. He's a goal scorer. He has a knack for the net."

Seidel says playing with Connolly has been a real treat. He credits Connolly for playing a large part in his increased production this season.

"It's unbelievable. It's easy, actually," Seidel said of playing on Connolly's line. "He's one of the top players in the nation. For me, it's simple: Get open and he's going to try and get me the puck. He's going to get you the puck if you're open."

Seidel knew heading into the summer he was going to have a chance to play with Connolly this season, and it was something that motivated him during the offseason.

"Coach had said 'We're going to look for you in key situations,'" Seidel said. "I took it serious and trained real hard in the summer."

That hard work has paid off, and has been a critical part of Duluth's scoring depth — the Bulldogs had the most potent offense in the nation entering the post-season at just over four goals per outing.

"That's been our year, we've had a lot of different guys contribute," Sandelin said. "I wasn't expecting to score as much as we have this year. We thought we maybe had some guys who could put us in that position, and certainly Mike has been one of those guys."

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