GRAND FORKS, ND – North Dakota finally looked to have found the traction they’ve been looking for since their 4-game skid. Rocco Grimaldi lit the lamp first off of a power play goal, decreasing UMD’s former #1 ranked penalty kill, followed by a weird goal (see below) from Michael Parks. UMD’s Alex Iafallo and Adam Krause responded 20 seconds apart, Krause scoring on the power play, to tie the game at twos.
Jordan Schmaltz buried the game winner off a beautiful wrister from the point, which ended up counting as the game winner, but Stephane Pattyn would record an empty-net goal before time expired, giving North Dakota the 4-2 victory. North Dakota is now 4-4-1 overall and 3-4-0 in the NCHC, while Minnesota Duluth stands at 4-4-1 overall and 1-2-0 in NCHC action.
What I saw
It was my first time in Ralph Engelstad Arena, and it was not a disappointing experience. The place was sold-out and full of energy. I would highly recommend visiting if an opportunity ever arose.
Both teams played their own games, which allowed an exciting hockey game to unfold. Going into the game, UMD held the #1 ranked penalty kill, while UND sat just two places behind at #3. This didn’t last though, as North Dakota found goals on two of six opportunities while Minnesota Duluth found one as well.
Despite giving up a few goals, both goaltenders played very well. Clarke Saunders finished the game with 34 saves vs Aaron Crandall’s 19 saves. Jordan Schmaltz finished with the game-winning goal and an assist during the action for two points. UND’s Dillon Simpson and Alex Iafallo also had multiple points in the night’s action.
What I Thought
North Dakota attempted a total of 59 shots on the night, 23 of which didn’t make the net because they were blocked by Bulldog players. I thought the number was light, but blocking shots has been a trend for the Bulldogs that is only getting better.
I couldn’t explain to you how Saunders made at least five of his saves. Not because I was unable to watch them, but because it didn’t make sense how his glove could get from point A to point B so quickly. Saunders played an excellent game of hockey for North Dakota.
As soon as the Bulldog’s penalty kill “square” was disrupted or confused, North Dakota was able to set themselves up nicely and bury more than one tally. The same thing goes with the Minnesota Duluth, who hasn’t been very successful this season on the man-advantage.
What They Said
Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said,
“I’m proud of our guys; I thought they held there composure and came back and got a couple quick goals to get back in the game. Those last two penalties just weren’t good penalties to take when we’re trying to get back in the game.”
North Dakota defenseman Jordan Schmaltz said,
“It was a hard fought game tonight and I’m glad our boys could come out on top.”
What Else You Should Know
North Dakota’s second goal had a little bit of controversy behind it. Michael Parks had pushed Willie Corrin into the UMD net, behind Aaron Crandall then received a pass, wrapped around the net, and the puck looked to have slid through the crease and out the other side.
The play continued as nothing had happened and UMD broke out of the zone. Upon the next whistle, commotion from North Dakota’s bench pushed referees CJ Beaurline and Derek Shepherd to take a look at Parks’ wrap around. After a review, the referees agreed it there was no goal on the play.
North Dakota’s bench erupted once again and the referees once again went back to take another look at the play, only this time coming to the conclusion that the puck did in fact cross the goal line.
The call was correct. Parks’ shot went across the line and defected off Corrin’s pads and bounced back out. It was pretty obvious to see on multiple replays, but what the heck is going on here? UMD coach Scott Sandelin was also left without an answer during the whole process, as the referees were only communicating with North Dakota’s bench.
It was a first I’ve seen none the less, but turned out not to effect the outcome of the game, as the Bulldogs came out and scored a quick two goals right after.
The puck drops at 7:07 CT Saturday night.