Grand Forks, ND – Coming into tonight’s game against the University of Minnesota Duluth, the University of North Dakota had lost two home games in a row and was looking to right the ship and get their first conference win at home. In the last three games at home, UND was winless and held a 0-2-1 record.
With tonight’s 4-2 win, make that 1-2-1.
So far this season, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference games have been a war. Six teams are currently separated by three points. With each game, the league standings shift and teams move up and down depending whether they win or lose.
Tonight’s game between UND and UMD is probably what the founding members’ envisioned when they first decided to embark on the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Let’s just say, the game was an exciting 60-minute dog fight. No pun intended.
“Pretty exciting hockey game I would imagine for the fans,” head coach Dave Hakstol said.
UND would jump to a 2-0 lead with goals by Rocco Grimaldi and Michael Parks. Then the momentum swing in the Bulldogs favor.
UMD would come racing back to tie the game on a couple of UND miscues in a 20-second stretch during the third period. UMD would score its first goal of the game at the 06:37 mark of the third period on a goal by forward Alex Iafallo. It appeared that UND goalie Clarke Saunders thought the ref was going to blow the whistle on the delayed penalty, but the ref didn’t, and the puck would end up in back of the UND net. UMD would score again 20-seconds later on the power play with a goal by Adam Krause. Tie game 2-2.
“Everyone is human and I went oh crap for about 10 seconds,” UND goalie Clarke Saunders. “Delayed penalty, I don’t know if that’s defined as possession or not. I thought so. The puck was there and I went for it.”
On the second UND goal, initially, the goal had been waved off after referees Derek Shepherd and CJ Beaurline had reviewed the goal. Upon talking to the UND bench, the officials returned to the penalty box area and reviewed the play again and then awarded UND the goal. The replay in the press box was obvious, it was a good goal. For some reason, the second review of the goal by the officials took a long time. When head coach Dave Hakstol was asked if he had asked the refs to take another look at the goal.
“Yeah, I did,” Hakstol said. “They don’t come and ask coaches what they should do. They go and make calls on their own. I thought they did a real good job.”
UND goalie Clarke Saunders was under attack all night long and he stopped 34 of 36 shots. After the game coach Hakstol was very complimentary of his starting goaltender.
“Clarke (Saunders) did a real good job tonight,” Hakstol said. “I think that Clarke has been excellent his last two outings.”
Sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz would get the game winner on the power play at the 10:05 mark of the third period and junior forward Stephane Pattyn would ice the game with an empty net goal at the 19:04 mark to round out the scoring for UND.
UND will go for its first conference home sweep tomorrow night 7:07 p.m. when they play the Bulldogs in game two at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. With the win UND improves to (4-4-1, 3-4-0 NCHC) on the season. UND is now tied for the lead in the NCHC, but has played three more games than Nebraska-Omaha and Saint Cloud State.