Fargo, ND – After laying an egg last weekend in the conference tourney, the University of North Dakota looked to bounce back against the Quinnipiac University Bobcats in the semifinals of the West Regional Championship.
Bounce back they did.
UND beat the Bobcats 4-1 to advance to the West Regional final. UND raced to a 3-0 lead with goals from Tucker Poolman, Bryn Chyzyk, Drake Caggiula.
At the 18:34 mark of the third period Andrew Taverner would break Zane McIntyre’s (29 saves) shutout bid. Sophomore forward Luke Johnson would add an empty net shorthanded goal with 16 seconds remaining to send North Dakota (28-9-2) to the championship game of the West Regional Championship.
UND never was in danger of losing the game and rebounded nicely from last weekend’s poor showing at the Frozen Faceoff.
For those keeping track at home, Saturday will be the ninth time in head coach Dave Hakstol’s 11-year career that his team has advanced to the regional championship.
Scheels Arena, hardly a neutral site
Scheels Arena sits approximately 75 miles from the campus of the University of North Dakota. While it’s not UND’s home arena, the venue was far from neutral.
“I didn’t think it was intimidating I really thought it was a great atmosphere I got to give it to North Dakota, they have some of the best fans in the country,” Quinnipiac University Head Coach Rand Pecknold said. “Obviously the arena is great, it’s really a good venue.
“Having been on the committee before it is a battle to keep neutral sites and obviously this was not a neutral site, but hey, we were the 14 seed so you have to go on the road and take your lumps so if we would have gotten a little bit higher up and had a better regular season we wouldn’t have to come here and play, but I thought it was great”
Coach Hakstol was moved by the Scheels Arena’s atmosphere.
“It was awesome,” Hakstol said. “Right from walking in the building a couple of hours before the game, right through the end of the final buzzer. What a tremendous atmosphere for our players to have the opportunity to play in. As I said yesterday, you’re not guaranteed anything at this time of year.
“Playing in an environment like this in your home state, because the teams are so good, everybody that we’re playing has been in these environments before but no question tonight we wanted to try and take advantage of this opportunity and I thought our guys acquitted themselves pretty well with that in mind.”
UND leads the nation in shorthanded goal, again
Through most of the season, the University of North Dakota led the nation in shorthanded goals. Then, near the end of the regular season, UMass-Lowell took over the shorthanded goal lead. Tonight, with their two shorthanded goals, UND again leads the nation in shorthanded goals.
With his shorthanded goal tonight, Drake Caggiula is now the team leader for shorthanded goals. Caggiula is tied for first nationally with four other players.
Bounce back game for UND
Last weekend, UND lost two games in a weekend for the first time since November 1-2, 2013 (SCSU). During the Frozen Faceoff, UND lost to St. Cloud 1-3 and Denver 1-5. There were many questions entering Friday’s game. For now, those questions appear to have been answered. UND bounced back nicely with a convincing 4-1 win against the Bobcats.
Coach Hakstol seemed a bit agitated with a member of the media when he suggested that Friday’s game was a bounce-back game.
“We weren’t looking for a bounce-back,” Hakstol said. “We were just coming to win a hockey game. Everybody’s made an awful lot of it, and I’ve heard an awful lot about last week. Teams have ups and downs and reasons why you have ups and downs.
“I think we’ve said it about a hundred times, we turned the page a week ago, and this group of guys has been able to do that through the season, whether it be good or bad results. Last weekend has very little to do with this weekend.”
On Saturday, UND will attempt to advance to the Frozen Four for the seventh time in coach Hakstol’s 11th year at UND.