Thursday, February 10, 2011

UMD's FCC Line Close to History

The (bad) joke about the Connolly-Connolly-Fontaine line for UMD is that we call them "FCC" because no one can regulate them.

That was certainly true Saturday at Amsoil Arena, when Mike Connolly scored a school record-tying five goals, Jack Connolly chipped in four assists, and Justin Fontaine had three. 12 points out of one line ... not bad. Nice way for them to shut me up.

(Full disclosure requires me to mention that I saw the line chart Saturday night, and privately didn't think it was a great idea. I've learned, though, to expect great things from this group. The fact that the coaches decided to put them back together for Saturday's game was -- in a way -- a message that big things were expected from the three. They've responded incredibly well to challenges all season, and they did that again Saturday.)

The big seasons all three players are having got me thinking about the potential historical ramifications.

Dan Lempe is UMD's all-time leading scorer, and that number (222 points in 146 games) doesn't appear to be in significant danger from any of the Bulldogs' current top three scorers. However, Fontaine and the Connollys do have a chance to leave a real mark on the program.

Fontaine has played 144 games in a UMD uniform as of this writing. He has 143 points on 56 goals and 87 assists. That's close to a point-per-game average as a Bulldog. Not bad for a guy who had 12 points in 35 games as a freshman, eh?

Not only is that a pretty significant accomplishment by itself, but if Fontaine can hoist his scoring average to at least a point per game, and end his UMD career there, he'll become the first Bulldog since Mike Peluso to play four years in a UMD uniform and end his career averaging a point per game or more.

Peluso played from 1994-1998, scoring 163 points (80 goals, 83 assists) in 153 games. Approximately 74 of those points came against Minnesota (possibly made up).

(Tim Stapleton was the closest since, hitting for 152 points in 162 games.)

It's not exactly a record, but it's a big deal in an era of college hockey where goals aren't as easy to come by as they used to be.

As for the Connollys, the future is more intriguing than the present. Mike has 117 points in 108 games, while Jack has 118 in 110. Both have cracked the top 40 on UMD's all-time list. It's probably reasonable to suggest that if both players return next season and stay reasonably healthy, they'll each top 160 points in a UMD uniform. That would put them in the top 20 all-time.

Not only that, but both Connollys have a real shot at finishing their careers with 100 assists, something that hasn't been done by a Bulldog since current assistant coach Derek Plante got to 123 assists in a stellar career that ended in 1993.

(Fontaine has a real outside shot at 100 assists, needing 13 before UMD's season ends.)

Of course, I'm all in favor of all three finding a way to get even higher up the charts than I'm projecting. The "___ has passed ___ on the list" bit is always fun. The next one is fun, because Fontaine's next point ties him with Brett Hull at 144 points, in 21st place on UMD's all-time list.

If he hits 146 points, he'll move into the top 20, passing Bob Lakso.

These are heady times for UMD hockey, in more ways than just their overall record.

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