This season the University of North Dakota hockey team has been known for its slow starts on Friday nights. UND came into tonight’s game with 8-6-1 (.533) record on Friday night’s and a 14-0-1 (.966) record on Saturday nights.
Recently, UND has started to pick it up on Friday nights. During the new year, UND has gone 5-2-0 (.714) on Fridays.
The Green and White entered Friday game against the St. Cloud State Huskies riding five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1).
REA a house of horrors for UND
Over the last two years, the Ralph Engelstad Arena has been like the National Hockey Center West for the Huskies. During that time, UND has gone 0-3-1 against the Huskies. Ironically, the Huskies were also the last team to sweep (1-2 L, 1-3, L) UND on November 1-2, 2013.
UND looked to change their fortunes against the Huskies at the Ralph.
On Friday night, UND was on a mission and got off to a quick start against the Huskies. UND was definitely the aggressor and pushed the pace during the first period.
UND scored the first goal of the game at the 11:44 mark of the first period. Freshman forward Nick Schmaltz’s was able to pull Huskies goalie Charlie Lindgren off the right post with a nice toe drag and deposited the puck behind the sophomore goalie.
UND would extend its lead to 2-0 with a power-play goal at the 17:36 mark of the first period. Senior forward Brendan O’Donnell took a crisp pass Nick Mattson at the top of the faceoff circle and blasted the puck past Lindgren.
During his four-year career, UND is 20-0-1 when O’Donnell scores a goal.
“I don’t really think much of it,” O’Donnell said. “I don’t know what to say, I think I am just lucky.”
UND outshot SCSU 10-3 in their first period.
At the 05:57 mark of the second period, UND would extend its lead to 3-0 with a goal from senior forward Connor Gaarder.
Just when you thought UND would be off to the races and blow out the Huskies, they started to push back. UND got back on their heels a bit.
In the second period, the ice began to tilt in the Red and Black’s favor. The Huskies dominated UND in the faceoff dot winning 41-of-65 draws.
“Our first period was excellent, after that we got our asses kicked in the second and third period,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Credit their guys, they did a good job in there. We have to do a little better job.”
At the 07:58 mark of the second period, the Huskies would finally dent the twine on the power play with a goal from sophomore forward Ben Strom.
As the tide turned, SCSU outshot UND 13-10 in the second period.
At the 04:47 mark of the third period the Huskies inched a little closer with a power play goal from Joey Benik.
But that was all the closer the Huskies would get. UND would win the game with the Huskies pressing in the final seconds.
The story of the night was the Huskies power play. The Huskies came into the game ranked third nationally on the power play. The Huskies didn’t disappoint as they went two-for-four with the man advantage.
“We know their power play does a good job and they did a good job tonight,” coach Hakstol said.
With the 3-2 win tonight, UND clinched home ice for the first round of the NCHC playoffs. UND also pushed their unbeaten streak to six games (5-0-1).
With the win, UND improved to 9-6-1 on Friday nights. UND broke a four-game winless streak against the Huskies With the 3-2 win. UND improved to 1-3-1 in last five games against the Huskies at the Ralph.
“We locked up home ice and we know we’ll be back in two weeks,” coach Hakstol said. “But for the time being we’ll worry about the back half of a two-game series here.”
UND will go for the series sweep on Saturday night. UND is 14-0-2 on Saturday nights. With the win, UND pushed their unbeaten streak to six. This season, UND is 13-3-3 at home (.763).
With the win, UND improved to (23-6-3, 14-5-2 NCHC). The loss dropped SCSU to (15-15-1, 10-10-1 NCHC).
Goalies saves, Charlie Lindgren SCSU (27-of-30), Zane McIntyre UND (22-of-24).
Same two teams tomorrow night at 7:07 pm CT.