Grand Forks, ND – A year ago, the University of North Dakota hockey team had a 4-7-2 record. They were sitting in the bottom of the NCHC standings and they were going nowhere fast.
What a difference a year makes.
Wins don’t come easy in the NCHC. Every series is a grind. Every game is an all-out war. This weekend’s series against the Mavericks was no different. UND was able to gut out a 3-2 win and take four-of-six points from the Mavericks.
“There’s a lot of good teams in the NCHC, that’s obvious,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I am not talking about the polls or anything else like that. I think there are a lot of real good teams in our league. It makes those non-conference results so important to each of us individually. Because it’s hard to get wins in the league. It’s also very important collectively because he help each other by being successful as a league in non-conference (play). “
Omaha forward Jake Randolph would get Mavericks on the board with a goal at 12:36 of the second period.
Senior captain Stephane Pattyn would spot UND a 3-1 lead with a shorthanded goal at 18:07 of the second period. With Pattyn’s shorthanded goal, UND continues to lead the nation in shorthanded goals with eight.
Zane McIntyre stands tall
Tonight, junior goalie Zane McIntyre was definitely the best player for UND. In the third period, McIntyre stopped 14-of-15 shots as the Omaha Mavericks made a frantic push. The Mavericks were unable to get the game-tying goal and in the end they would fall short.
McIntyre was the game’s first star stopping 32-of-34 and improving to 10-3-2 on the season.
“Zano (McIntyre) saved us the game, that’s for sure” Pattyn said. “He played outstanding in that third period. I think that they had 15 shots in the third period or something like that, so. He’s a big leader and a he’s rock for us back there for us every game. Tonight he really played the way he had to.”
After struggling on Friday night, Pattyn was challenged by the head coach. On Saturday night, Pattyn had one of his most complete games of the season.
“I think individually I think he played a heck of a game,” McIntyre said. “I know last night he didn’t play his best and coach kind of challenged him to step it up. If he’s going to be a leader for our team, other guys are going to have to follow him. So, I think he kind of took it (the team) on his shoulders to play a heck of a hockey game. That was impressive to see.”
Pattyn explained what he did differently tonight.
“I am just trying to simplify my game and not make mistakes,” Pattyn said. Just leading by example, I think if I do that guys will follow. I think that’s what our team has to do to be successful.”
UND will enter December with 10 or more wins for the first time since 2002-03, when freshman Zach Parise and friends went 12-1-1 in OCT/NOV.