Fourth Line Leads UND past Niagara

Last Friday night against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, University of North Dakota senior forward Brendan O’Donnell was paired on a forward line with Michael Parks and Mark McMillan.

After Friday’s 4-1 loss to the Bulldogs, UND head coach Dave Hakstol revamped the lines and dropped O’Donnell down to the fourth line with Connor Gaarder and Austin Poganski.

That move paid off for UND. O’Donnell would score a hat trick in Saturday’s game and led UND to a 5-2 win.

Fast forward to Friday, O’Donnell was again paired with Gaarder and Poganski again. The fourth line would come up big for UND leading the Green and White to a 7-1 win against Niagara.

In the two games since being moved to the fourth line, O’Donnell has scored (4g-2a—6pts).

What has gone unnoticed by most fans, Gaarder has also been hot. In his last three games, he’s scored (1g-3a—4pts).

Niagara came into the game ranked 59th in the Pairwise Rankings. The Purple Eagles were outclassed and were never really in the game. The Purple Eagles managed to score at the 14:10 mark of the third period with a goal from freshman forward Albin Karlsson.

UND scored two goals in the first period and then UND followed that up by scoring four more goals in the second period to bury Niagara.

When asked about the play of his fourth-line head coach Dave Hakstol was very complimentary. In fact, he seemed pleased with the secondary scoring.

“They’re playing good hockey,” Hakstol said. “That’s how you have to play to score. It’s hard to score. You watch the numbers of player’s defensive, around the blue paint. There are not a lot of fancy plays to be had in there. Those guys are playing straight line hockey. They’re playing their way.”

On paper, Poganski, Gaarder and O’Donnell are the fourth line. Coach Hakstol doesn’t really see it that way.

“They’re just a line; you can put that number on them if you want,” Hakstol said. “They’re three guys that fit well together. Where ever they’re listed on the line chart, you guys can decide whatever number that goes with that. They’re just a good line.”

True to form, O’Donnell was quick to credit his teammates and deflect the credit. When asked what he’s doing right. He credited his line mates.

“Linemates, I think I kind of have to give all the credit to them,” O’Donnell said. “The one tonight, again, Gordy just kind of fed me back door for the tap in. I didn’t do much there. Pogo is playing great right now. We have some chemistry together and I think some things are going our way right now.”

Coming into Friday’s game, Poganski had gone pointless in the last five games. Against Niagara, the freshman chipped in three points and was the number one star of the game.

With the win, UND improves to 15-5-2. With the loss, the Purple Eagles drop to 3-16-2.
The same two teams face-off tomorrow night at 07:07.

(Official Box Score)