Grand Forks, ND – University of North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol has won 20 games in each of the 10 seasons that he’s coached. No other active Division I hockey coach can make that claim.
North Dakota started the season 4-7-2, and since November 30, 2013, has gone on a 16-3-1 run. Tonight, UND got the 20th win of their season by shutting out a scrappy Western Michigan 2-0 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
In the second period, UND scored two goals 18 seconds apart by forwards Stephane Patty and Luke Johnson to break the game open. Sophomore goalie Zane Gothberg preserved the win, recording his second shutout of the season stopping 18-of-18 shots.
“Obviously it starts with our coaching staff,” Gothberg said. “They’ve been through the ropes. They’ve been through everything, throughout the years. And I think it just kind of came down from them.”
Gothberg continued, “Once we figured out how to play our game, each guy bought in. It was a simple mentality change, just a little bit before Christmas break. It was kind of cool to see what happened. You know what, we’re going out and proving ourselves every night, still. Proving to ourselves and to our team that we can be even better.”
After the game, Western Michigan head coach Andrew Murray was asked about his thoughts on his team’s play.
“I give North Dakota a lot of credit,” Western Michigan head coach Andy Murray said. “I actually thought our game in the first 15 minutes was pretty darn good. We had two or three great chances in front of (Zane) Gothberg, and he made some good saves.”
“North Dakota was hungry and they were sniffing blood, and they came after us. They played hard, and we weren’t as good as they were.”
Coach Murray was asked what his team needed to do to get the win on Saturday night.
“There are a number of things that we need to do differently,” Murray said. “Coach needs to be better. We’re playing against a very good North Dakota team. I think you could tell we were ready to play tonight, the way we can, in the first 15 minutes. In reality, we could have been up by a couple of goals, here. They’re a good team and their coaches do a very good job. I think both teams play very similar. They just played better.”
After the game the UND players shared their thoughts.
“It was a good game,” sophomore forward Luke Johnson said. “I thought we played really well. I thought we played with a lot of pace. We played pretty fast, and they did too.”
“Probably the only people who believed in us was ourselves in that locker room,” junior forward Stephane Pattyn said. “We had a bit of a rough start there, it was ugly. We just stuck together. Everyone just nutted up and got the job done. We’re just going to have to keep doing the same thing.”
Tonight’s game was a hard fought game, and was a tie game until the 17:21 mark of the second period. UND finally broke the game over with a couple of quick goals 18 seconds apart.
“It was nice that we got rewarded,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I thought we had a pretty good period. Then at 17 minutes (of the second period) or whatever it was, we didn’t have a lot to show for it. A nice power-play goal followed up with another quick one was critical for that period.”
With the win, North Dakota (20-10-3, 15-8-3 NCHC) has a chance to win the Penrose Trophy on the final night of the regular season.
With the loss, Western Michigan (16-14-5, 10-11-2 NCHC) will be on the road for the first round of the NCHC playoffs.
On Saturday night, the same two teams play again at 07:00 p.m. Central.
A few statistics from the game
UND out shot WMU 38-18 for the game.
Friday night’s game, was the first time UND has beaten a team when it scored two goals or fewer, UND is now 1-8-2 (.181).
UND has killed 20 of the last 21 opponents power-plays.