Grand Forks, N.D. – Saturday’s game was a tale of two teams going in separate directions. The University of North Dakota came into tonight’s game riding a six-game winning streak. The Colorado College Tigers entered tonight’s game with a 0-9-1 record on the road and a 0-5-3 record in one-goal games.
So far this season, the second period hasn’t been kind for the Tigers. In the four previous games, the Tigers had been outscored 11-1, during the middle period. Tonight, the Tigers held UND off of the score sheet during the second period and outscored UND 1-0, despite being outshot 13-7 by UND. But that wasn’t enough to secure the win for the Tigers.
For a while, things were looking pretty good for Colorado College. The Tigers got a power play goal by Alex Krushelnyski to tie the game at the 19:36 mark of the second period. The Tigers then took the lead on a power play goal by freshman defenseman Jaccob Slavin at the 1:16 mark of the third period.
Then the roof fell in on the Tigers.
In third period, UND mounted a furious comeback and scored two quick goals by Keaton Thompson and Rocco Grimaldi. That gave UND a 3-2 lead that they never relinquished. The Tigers mounted a counterattack, but they were unable to get anything past Zane Gothberg who stopped 21-of-23 shots.
With the win UND improves to 11-7-2, 7-5-0 NCHC. UND is currently sitting in second place in the NCHC standings but has played two more games than St. Cloud State, Denver, Nebraska-Omaha, Western Michigan and Miami.
Grimaldi’s game-winning goal was a result of an aggressive forecheck by Derek Rodwell. The senior forward entered the offensive zone with speed, causing Tiger defenseman Gustav Olofsson to turn over the puck. Grimaldi picked up the loose puck in front of the Tigers net and shot the puck past Tigers goalie Josh Thorimbert.
“That was a nice bounce,” Grimaldi said. “I was just trying to go for a good forecheck. The defenseman tried to slip [the puck] by me, and it hit me in the chest. It was kind of in my feet, and I didn’t know where it was. I finally found it, and thankfully the goalie had no idea where it was. It was a big goal for us but obviously a lucky one.”
Head coach called out upperclassmen after exhibition loss
Before last weekend’s second exhibition game against Simon Fraser, UND head coach Dave Hakstol called out a few of his upperclassmen, by name. It appears that message was received, loud and clear. This weekend, Michael Parks and Mark MacMillan responded to the head coach’s challenge, by chipping in five points between the two of them. Parks had two goals and an assist, and MacMillan scored two goals.
“I think everyone has responded,” MacMillan said. “Everyone is stepping up when they need too. Zane back there is doing a good job back there. All six D are doing their jobs. All four lines went out there and did what they needed to do. We had constant pressure on them, a lot. If we’re going to win a lot of games that is what we have to do.”
One of the keys to the seven-game win streak is the health of MacMillan, who’s finally 100 percent healthy again, after missing some time with a lower body injury.
“Obviously, injuries are always tough, especially lower body ones,” MacMillan said. “Kind of hard to skate before Christmas there, but it was good to go home and kind of rest it up, definitely feeling better.”
When asked why his team is playing so well, Hakstol said, “Just guys playing hard and playing consistently. I think our team is starting to show some maturity.”
The head coach seemed pleased with his team’s performance this weekend.
“I thought it was a good performance,” Hakstol said. “I thought we played a pretty good first period. I thought we played an excellent second period. We just didn’t have anything to show for it. Then in the third period, we came out and we’re down by one pretty quick. But again, we just went back to work. I thought we had good leadership from a lot of different areas of our line up – maybe in some unexpected areas.”
Rough Season for the C.C. Tigers
The struggles continue for the Colorado College Tigers, who have only one win in the past 19 games. With the loss tonight, C.C. is 0-6-3 in one-goal games and 0-10-1 on the road. The loss drops Colorado College to (2-15-3, 2-7-3 NCHC).
UND plays a home and home series against non-conference foe Bemidji State University, at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minnesota. Friday’s game is at 7:37 p.m. Central Standard Time. Saturday’s game is at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, game time is at 7:07 p.m. Central Standard Time.