DULUTH, Minn. — With his team playing flat Friday and trailing Colorado College 2-1 in the third period, Minnesota-Duluth men’s hockey coach Scott Sandelin was looking for a spark that could get his team back in contention for three precious National Collegiate Hockey Conference points.
Turns out, all he had to do was get the band back together.
Senior forward and captain Adam Krause made his return to the ice Friday for the first time since leaving an Oct.
25 win against Denver with a broken wrist, but it wasn’t until the third period that Sandelin threw Krause back where he started the season on the team’s top line with sophomores Alex Iafallo and Dominic Toninato. The trio tallied the game-tying goal in the overtime win that night and followed on Saturday with two more goals in the No. 9 Bulldogs’ 7-2 rout of the Tigers.
Krause admitted he didn’t think he, Iafallo and Toninato would be reunited so soon, but now that they’re back together, Krause hopes the line stays together.
“I look at the skill of Iafallo and I look at the skill of [Toninato], it’s not that hard to play with them,” Krause said. “They’re going to make anyone else look pretty good. I try to get to spots where they want me to be. They are special players. I’m very proud to be able to play with them and call them my linemates and, hopefully, I can do that until I’m gone from here.”
— Scott Sandelin, UMD coach
Iafallo and Krause, the wings, and Toninato, the center, played together the first six games this season, though Krause was unable to finish the final two on Oct. 24-25 against Denver in Duluth due to two unrelated injuries. Krause, Iafallo and Toninato combined for eight goals in those first six games with five coming while all three were on the ice together when Krause was healthy from start to finish.
“You have a little bit of everything on that line and it’s seemed to click,” Sandelin said. “They have chemistry and hopefully they keep clicking.”
Iafallo is the playmaker on the Bulldogs’ top line with his three goals and nine assists. Five of those assists are on goals by the line’s goal scorer, Toninato. Toninato, the center from Duluth, has 10 goals this season, seven coming from either Iafallo, Krause or both.
Krause has just two goals and four assists, but scoring isn’t what he brings to the line. Krause is the player willing to go to “the tough areas,” according to Sandelin.
“He’s first to pucks,” Toninato said about Krause. “He wins puck battles along the boards. He’s got a great shot. He’s scoring goals. He’s got great vision. He’s strong in the D-zone. He’s a great, well-rounded player.”
When Krause originally went down against Denver, Sandelin moved junior wing Austin Farley onto the top line because of the chemistry he displayed with Toninato and Iafallo on the power play. Five-on-five, they finished with one goal together against the Pioneers.
Next came senior wing Justin Crandall for six games. That trio scored four times in their first four games together, but was then shut down in two games at Nebraska-Omaha and didn’t produce what Sandelin was looking for in the first two periods against Colorado College.
“You’d rather have [Krause] on the ice and in the locker room, in the game,” Toninato said. “It’s nice to have him on our line with the chemistry we have.”