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North Dakota Rebounds for Split with 3-2 Win at St. Cloud State

Matt Christians

Happy 21st birthday, Trevor Olson. One night after being a healthy scratch, the North Dakota freshman forward banged home two rebounds for his first two career goals, including the eventual game-winner at 5:52 of the second period to help lead North Dakota to a 3-2 win at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, giving them a series split against NCHC rival St. Cloud State.

"It feels really good," said Olson after the game. "All those guys in there have been working hard for me, and I'm glad I could finally return the favor."

The game got off to a fast start, with three goals in the first 5:05 of the game. Olson started the scoring with a rebound goal at 2:53, following by Brendan O'Donnell, who extended North Dakota's lead 1:17 later. Patrick Russell answered back to get the Huskies on the board with a blistering wrist shot that beat North Dakota goalie Zane McIntyre.

The teams would trade goals in the second period, with Olson notching his second of the game, and Joey Benik answering back at 13:29 of the second. From there, North Dakota would almost completely shut down St. Cloud State's offensive attack in the third period, limiting the Huskies to a few chances from the perimeter in a scoreless third period.

North Dakota's Zane McIntyre stopped 27 of 29 shots in the victory, while St. Cloud State's Charlie Lindgren stopped 36 of 39 shots in the loss.

North Dakota improves to 9-3-1 on the season and 4-2-0 in NCHC conference play. St. Cloud State falls 5-6-1 on the season and 2-3-1 in the NCHC. North Dakota will host Omaha next weekend, while St. Cloud State will spend the holiday weekend playing a non-conference series against in-state rivals Bemidji State.

Fancy Stats

Shots on goal: SCSU: 6-12-11-29   UND: 15-16-8-39

Corsi(even strength shot attempts) SCSU: 11-21-28-60    UND: 22-19-13-54 (52.6% to 47.4% SCSU)

Prime Scoring zone attempts: SCSU: 6- 9-11-26  UND: 12-13-4-29

Notes:

-It was the wrong night to show up late. The first five minutes was as aggressive and wide open as I can remember a college hockey game starting out in some time. That was aided by some big defensive mistakes on both sides that created some odd-man opportunities. Both teams really settled down after that explosive start though, as the game ground down to a tough defensive battle in the final two periods.

-A great crowd at the National Hockey Center tonight. The announced attendance of 5569 was 747 people higher than Friday night, and it seemed that those extra 700 or so people where North Dakota fans that made the trip down for Saturday night(or so I was told; I wasn't here last night). Having an opposing fan presence made a huge difference in getting the home crowd more engaged and active in the game, and made for a more fun atmosphere.  Perhaps something to think about after spending the past week talking about the all-encompassing importance of "high profile schools".

-North Dakota came out with a very good effort tonight after only scoring once in a 3-1 loss last night.

" We said after the game last night, we got beat in pretty much every area. I thought we did everything a little bit better tonight. We played better without the puck tonight. We weren't standing around and in the area, we were defending. We were engaged in every scrum, every battle, every 50/50 puck. We didn't win all of them, but we were engaged."

North Dakota is still a team that will fire the puck from anywhere, and relies on winning battles in front of the net for rebound opportunities. On night's like last night, when they're not winning those battles, they don't look that great. On night's like tonight, when they are winning those battles, they look close to unstoppable.

-North Dakota's top line has been carrying their team for a few weeks now, and while they didn't show up on the scoresheet tonight, they were very impressive again. Drake Caggiula created havoc on the forecheck all night, forcing turnovers. Michael Parks does an excellent job protecting the puck along the wall and using body positioning to gain leverage and make plays, and Parks showed tremendous speed to get around a St. Cloud defender on a goal that was eventually waved off after video review. And Mark MacMillan used his speed and strength to be effective all night. That's a veteran line that knows how to play the game and knows how to win battles. They're a match-up nightmare for any team, and especially a team like St. Cloud which doesn't play a lot of muscle on the blue line.

-Mark MacMillan played his first game at center since breaking his wrist in late-October. "He's been politicking for two weeks," said Hakstol about moving MacMillan back to the middle. MacMillan's wrist is still heavily bandaged and he's playing with a brace that restricts his movement, but he was still effective. A night after struggling in the face-off circle, North Dakota won the face-off battle tonight 37-32, including a 19-14 record for MacMillan.

-St. Cloud State freshman Patrick Russell scored his third goal of the season on a very heavy shot, and continues to impress. Foot speed is a bit of an issue, but that's a big league and he's going to score a lot of goals.

That will be a key for St. Cloud going forward because they're just not getting much offense behind that first line. Joey Benik-Jonny Brodzinski-David Morley have a combined 15 goals. The three lines behind them tonight have a combined total of six, and half of those have come from Russell.

-A very defensive third period ended up wrecking North Dakota's fancy stats, but that was an extremely impressive performance. St. Cloud State had a lot of possession in the North Dakota zone, but I struggle to think of any high-quality chances that resulted from it. Instead, North Dakota blocked 10 shots in the period, and outside of a few harmless whacks at rebounds, the Huskies only had one shot from the prime scoring area make it on goal; everything else was on the perimeter.

-North Dakota's Bryn Chyzyk didn't play tonight after suffering a shoulder injury on Friday night. There's no word on how long that will keep him out.

Final Scoring

First Period

2:53 Trevor Olson from Johnny Simonson and Austin Poganski 1-0 North Dakota

Lindgren was able to make the first save with his pad, but the rebound kicked out to Olson on the left side of the goal mouth, giving him an easy tap-in for his first career goal.

4:10 Brendan O'Donnell from Colten St. Clair and Jordan Schmaltz 2-0 North Dakota

O'Donnell picked up the puck in the neutral zone on a 2-on-1. He came down the right wing, then cut to the center of the ice where he beat Lindgren with a high wrist shot.

5:05 Patrick Russell from Jimmy Murray 2-1 North Dakota

Russell received a pass on the right wing in the neutral zone. With space to work with, he skated into the zone and fired a hard wrist shot that beat McIntyre to the glove side.

Second Period

5:52 Trevor Olson from Troy Stecher and Austin Poganski 3-1 North Dakota

Stecher took a shot from a low angle on the left wing. Lindgren made the inital stop, but the rebound kicked out to Olson, who was coming down the slot, and he put the rebound back in for his second goal of the game.

13: 29 Joey Benik from Niklas Nevalainen 3-2 North Dakota

Benik skated the puck deep into the zone on the left wing and fired a high shot from near the goal line that beat McIntyre over the shoulder.

Third Period

None