Led by Jordan Schmaltz, #13 ranked North Dakota downed #20 Minnesota Duluth 4-2.
North Dakota was able to finally get their feet on the ground and earn a solid win over Minnesota Duluth at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks on Friday night.
It was North Dakota's second win in a row, but first solid game after the four-game losing streak they battled previously.
Rocco Grimaldi put North Dakota on the board first during a power play attempt, erupting Ralph Engelstad Arena. The play developed along the blueline as Jordan Schmaltz slid a pass over to Dillon Simpson, who threw a wrister on net. UMD netminder Aaron Crandall looked to believe he was laying on it, but Grimaldi chipped the puck in to put UND up 1-0.
The second goal of the game was one of the most interesting things I've seen in a hockey game. Michael Parks and Willie Corrin were battling in front of the net without the puck, resulting in Corrin being pushed into the net. Parks was able to get the puck right after, and wrapped around to Crandall's right but the puck looked to have missed and the play continued. No whistle blew.
Commotion from the North Dakota bench resulted in the play being reviewed in order to see if the puck ever crossed the line. Referees Derek Shepherd and CJ Beaurline came out after the review and announced there was no goal.
After even more commotion from UND's bench after the "official" word, Shepherd and Beaurline went back once again to take a second look at the play. Only this time, they came out and declared it to be a goal after minutes of reviewing.
The puck did cross the line. It was a goal. It was also the first time i've witnessed anything like that.
Parks was credited with the goal, as it went into the net and looked to have bounced off Corrin's body and deflected out, and Paul LaDue and Luke Johnson were issued assists on the play. North Dakota going up 2-0 over Minnesota Duluth.
The Bulldogs responded with two goals in a matter of 20 seconds to tie the game at 2s, starting with a beautiful goal by Alex Iafallo, who caught Clarke Saunders off guard and out of the net trying to control the puck and kill the play, as there was a delayed penalty called on North Dakota. Dominic Toninato was credited with the assist.
The second UMD tally came from Adam Krause, his first of the year, from Iafallo and Willie Raskob just 20 seconds into the power play. At this point, the momentum was in the hands, or paws, of the Bulldogs.
Schmaltz would nail the game-winner just over 3 minutes later on the man advantage. It was a beautiful shot that looked to go high-blocker side, Drake Caggiula providing a nice screen, and gave UND the 3-2 lead with less than half a period remaining in the game.
Stephane Pattyn tallied an empty-netter with 55.5 seconds remaining, which sealed the 4-2 North Dakota victory.
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"it was a hard fought game tonight," said sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz. "I'm glad our boys could come out on top."
Schmaltz finished the game with two points, a goal and an assist, but he wasn't the only impressive player on the ice for North Dakota tonight.
Clarke Saunders finished the game with 34 saves, but admitted to preferring a high number of shots.
"(Saunders is) battling and seeing pucks," said Schmaltz. "He's keeping us in games and doing everything he can to help us win."
Although Minnesota Duluth lost the game, they had their fair share of quality opportunities and Aaron Crandall provided a solid foundation between the pipes.
"I thought we played a great game," said Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin. "We had chances to take the lead and i thought their goalie was really good. They outscored us 2-1 on the power play and that ended up being the difference, and thats how fine of a line it is."
1st Period - UND (17:59) PP Rocco Grimaldi from Dillon Simpson and Jordan Schmaltz
3rd Period - UND (0:37) Michael Parks from Paul LaDue and Luke Johnson
3rd Period - UMD (6:37) Alex Iafallo from Dominic Toninato
3rd Period - UMD (6:57) PP Adam Krause from Alex Iafallo and Willie Raskob
3rd Period - UND (10:05) PP Jordan Schmaltz from Dillon Simpson and Drake Caggiula
3rd Period - UND (19:04) EN Stephane Pattyn from Nick Mattson
- North Dakota took a total of 23 shots that were blocked by Minnesota Duluth defenders. This is a stat that seems to keep building upon itself.
- Clarke Saunders earned his second win of the year and is now 2-0-0.
- Going into the night, UMD had the #1 ranked penalty kill, while UND had the #3. As of now, UMD sits in 6th place at 90.6% while North Dakota is ranked 5th at 90.7%.
- Aaron Crandall made a total of 19 saves vs Clarke Saunders' 34 saves, but North Dakota took a total of 59 attempted shots to UMD's 56.
- The game was penalty filled, totaling 36 minutes between the two teams, all of which were 2-minute minors.
- The three stars of the game went to: 1. Jordan Schmaltz, 2. Clarke Saunders, 3. Alex Iafallo.
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Matt Christians covers Minnesota Duluth and the NCHC for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also give him a follow on Twitter -> Follow @matt_christians