Grand Forks, ND –What a difference a year makes, a year ago it was near 65 degrees sunny and devoid of snow.
Fast forward to March 15, 2013, 10,571 fans braved near white out conditions to attend tonight’s game and outside it looked more like a January 15 game; than a game being played in the middle of March.
UND is 14-1-2 when scoring four or more goals this season. Make that 15-1-2 with the 5-3 win tonight. What is even more impressive, UND has also won 14 straight WCHA playoff game with the win tonight.
That being said, it wasn’t UND best effort tonight. The win didn’t come easy.
“It was a tough hockey game to find any flow,” UND head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We need to play better and return our focus to doing that tomorrow night.”
UND was outshot 43-24 by the upstart Huskies and they gave the UND forwards fits by getting in the shooting lanes and taking away UND’s time and space.
At the 12:30 mark of the first period UND defenseman Andrew MacWilliam was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for contact to the head of Michigan Tech forward David Johnstone. After further review of the play, it was apparent that the on ice official Marco Hunt had made the wrong call. Johnston suffered a broken collar bone on the hit.
The five minute major to MacWilliam threw UND off of their rhythm and it took a while for the Green and White to regain the upper hand. UND coach Dave Hakstol expounded on it a little more after the game.
“The five minute major knocked us back,” Hakstol said. “We survived it and recovered. I guess it was the story of the night. We hit a few bumps in the road, but we found a way to win.”
The Tech Huskies took the game to UND until the 15:45 mark of the middle frame when fourth line forward junior forward Derek Rodwell scored his second goal of the year unassisted.
“The Rodwell goal was a big one for us,” Hakstol said. When the head coach was asked where that goal came from? Hakstol continued, “Derek does that really well. He took the puck wide, drove wide little bit. Pulled it to the middle and snapped it hard at the net. It was well out from, 40-feet out – he put it bar down – it was good timing to get his second (goal) of the year.
Junior forward Derek Rodwell had this to say about his goal. “It was a just kind of a broke play down the center-ice,” Rodwell said. “I saw a little bit room and tried to shoot through the screen, just happened to get a good bounce that happened to go in.”
Senior forward Danny Kristo had a monstrous night on the ice for UND tonight recording (2g-1a—3pts) pushing his season point total to (23g-25a—48pts) three points off of the national leaders Ryan Walters and Greg Carey.
Danny Kristo was there to answer bell every time the Tech Huskies would score to tighten the game up. The Senior forward didn’t seemed all that pleased with his team’s effort tonight.
“Friday night is the biggest game of the series,” Kristo said. “I think that we played very average tonight, we didn’t do the things we need to do to keep playing this time of year, but we’re going to move on, and forget this one. We’ll take the win and get ready for tomorrow, it’s going to be tough to end a team’s season, because Tech is playing good hockey – proud of the win – but we got to be better tomorrow.”
Kristo is right, UND is going to have to be better if UND wants to end Tech’s season tomorrow night. Game 2 is set for tomorrow night at the Ralph Engelstad Arena at 7:07 p.m. central.
Cross-posted at the Hockey Writers Combine.