Consolation games can be a bit of a mixed bag, where the winner is often decided by which team is most willing to show up and put forth a decent effort. In Saturday’s NCHC consolation, it was the team that needed everything to go right for them to continue their season rather than the team that is just hoping everything doesn’t go wrong for them today. North Dakota defeated a technically present Minnesota Duluth 4-1 to take third place in the NCHC tournament.
Austin Poganski kept the puck on a 2-on-1 rush for the game’s first goal seven minutes into the first period, and Joel Janatuinen scored a rebound goal seven minutes into the second period. That was all the scoring North Dakota would need to defeat the Bulldogs, who controlled possession in the first two periods, but failed to generate many quality scoring chances in the game. Some late-game penalties allowed North Dakota to tack on two more goals, while Minnesota Duluth scored on short-handed.
The victory eases North Dakota’s path towards securing an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, but far from guarantees it. They will await the results of the Hockey East and ECAC championship games, and will make the tournament if Providence and Clarkson respectively prevail.
Minnesota Duluth, meanwhile, fell behind Minnesota in the Pairwise Rankings, putting them on the wrong side of the bubble if Boston University and Princeton pull upsets later tonight and secure automatic bids.
Notes and Thoughts
-Just not a very good effort out of Minnesota Duluth. The Bulldogs looked incredibly flat all game, and absolutely dreadful on the power play. Their possession numbers were decent through the first two periods, but they just didn’t show the fight to get into hard areas and generate quality chances. North Dakota controlled the ice in front of their own net.
It would have taken a disaster for Minnesota Duluth to miss the tournament heading into this weekend, and they certainly did their part. The odds they get in are still good, but tonight will be a lot more nerve-wracking than it should have been. If they do get in, I wouldn’t worry too much about being able to put this weekend behind them.
-North Dakota was good enough. Cam Johnson was tested with one big save in the opening minutes that maybe would have changed the tone of the game, and did a nice job to control a few rebounds that could have have become problematic.
-Nick Jones was North Dakota’s best forward again tonight. He set up the big first goal with a steal at the blue line to send Poganski in. He has developed into a workhorse for North Dakota.
-The officials reviewed two penalties and one faceoff location over a stretch of less than three minutes of game time in the third period.
Shots on goal: UMD: 11-9-8-28 UND: 6-12-13-31
Even strength shot attempts: UMD: 14-19-8-41 UND: 10-16-14-40
Prime scoring area attempts: UMD: 4-7-5-16 UND: 6-9-13-28
What do the numbers tell us?
Minnesota Duluth was pretty good in terms of 5-on-5 possession, but too many of their shots were coming from the perimeter. North Dakota was much better in tough areas of the ice.
7:22 Austin Poganski from Nick Jones 1-0 North Dakota
Jones stole the puck from a UMD defenseman at the UND blue line, and gave the puck to Poganski on the left wing on a 2-on-1 rush. Poganski held the puck himself and fired a shot past Shepard for a goal.
7:09 Joel Janatuinen from Colton Poolman 2-0 North Dakota
Poolman got the puck to the front of the UMD net, and Janatuinen was in position to chip a rebound over Shepard for the goal.
15:51 Shane Gersich from Ludvig Hoff and Austin Poganski (power play) 3-0 North Dakota
Hoff got the puck near the goal crease and flipped a behind-the-back pass to Gersich, who was wide open on the backdoor for the goal.
16:37 Mikey Anderson from Dylan Samberg and Billy Exell (short-handed) 3-1 North Dakota
Anderson skated in on the left wing and took a wrist shot from the face-off dot that fooled Johnson and leaked through on the blocker side.
19:04 Ludvig Hoff from Christian Wolanin and Jordan Kawaguchi (power play) 4-1