Grand Forks, ND – The University of North Dakota hockey team has been on a tear during the second half of the season. With the 3-2 win on Friday night against the Miami RedHawks, they improve their record to 11-2-1 in the last 14 games and (15-9-3, 10-7 NCHC) overall. UND is now tied with Nebraska-Omaha for second place in the NCHC with 30 points.
Junior forward Mark MacMillan has been on a hot streak for UND, the junior forward from Penticton, British Columbia, chipped in two goals and an assist to lead UND. During the last nine games, MacMillan has scored (5g-6a—11pts). When asked about his junior forward, head coach Dave Hakstol has this to say.
“He played a good hockey game,” Hakstol said. “He was moving his feet. He used his linemates well. I thought he played a good hockey game. I don’t think there was anything spectacular, but he played a real good hockey.”
Coming into the game, the UND power-play has been ice cold, and hadn’t scored a power-play goal since January, 24, 2014. On Friday night, UND finally broke through on the power-play going 1-for-6. After the game, coach Hakstol had this to say about UND’s struggling power-play.
“You guys are making a big deal about it, not me,” Hakstol said. “We had a bad weekend last weekend, that’s all. You can put that behind you. We did a good job tonight. Tonight’s a new night.”
This past week, UND made some adjustments on their power-play. The coaching staff moved junior forward Stephane Pattyn to the power-play and it seemed to work.
“One of the areas where I thought we were better tonight was gaining possession in the offensive zone,” Hakstol said. “That’s one of the things that Steph Pattyn is pretty good at. He’s a big body and a strong guy that can go to the front of the net. Maybe that’s something he can bring as well. Probably first thing is getting in and getting that initial possession.
UND’s lone power-play goal wasn’t a thing of beauty, but that didn’t seem to matter to the burly assistant captain.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it counts,” Pattyn said. “We have put a lot of work on power-play and made a couple of changes, so we’ll take it.”
Coming into the game, Clarke Saunders had been lights out on Friday nights and not so good on Saturday nights. Last night, Saunders stopped 31-of-33 shots (.939%). Even with the bad game last Saturday, Saunder’s teammates never lost confidence in their starting goalie.
“He had a good game night tonight, Hakstol said. “Especially when the game was 3-1, I thought he made two or three key saves to keep the game at 3-1. I thought he did a good job tonight.”
“Not at all, He was great all week in practice,” Pattyn said. “We have faith in him. We knew he was going come back and have a great game and if he’s in tomorrow he will do the same thing.”
With the win, the UND head coach surpassed the 250 win mark. After the game, coach Hakstol was asked about his thoughts on getting his 250th win tonight.
“I didn’t know that,” Hakstol said. “No comment. It was a good team win for us. I thought we had some good play out of all of our lines. We’ve got to get ready for a battle tomorrow.”
UND will try to push his win total to 251 when they play the second game of the two-game serious tonight at 7:00 P.M. Central at Ralph Engelstad Arena.