Five highlights from around the country (Saturday/Sunday):
1. Alaska (Fairbanks) blew a 2-0 third-period lead — with a chance to close out a sweep at home — and lost to Western Michigan 3-2. The game-winning goal was scored by former UND forward Mike Cichy with just 2:44 left in the game. Cichy is tied as Western’s leading scorer with eight points in 10 games.
2. Speaking of former UND forwards, Brett Bruneteau scored an unassisted, game-winning goal in the third period for Vermont as the Catamounts beat Northeastern 3-2 on Sunday. It was Bruneteau’s first point of the season.
3. Holy Cross is doing its part to make sure its nonconference series with UND in January will be big for RPI points. The Crusaders extended their unbeaten streak to four games by taking three or four points from RIT and moved into second place in Atlantic Hockey with a 7-2-1 mark.
4. Chris Knowlton continued his breakout senior season with a four-point night as Denver finished off an impressive sweep of rival Colorado College with a 6-2 win. Knowlton leads the WCHA with eight goals — all of them coming in league games.
5. Tom Serratore scored the game-winning goal in the third period as Minnesota held Wisconsin to 17 shots on goal in earning a three-point weekend at home against the Badgers.
Top WCHA performers
4 points — Chris Knowlton, DU, 2 goals, 2 assists
3 points — Mark MacMillan, UND, 2 goals, 1 assist
3 points — Danny Kristo, UND, 1 goal, 2 assists
UND 4, Duluth 3, OT
Just when it looked like Duluth was fully in control of overtime and UND would be fortunate to get out of it with a tie, Danny Kristo made a big play and Mark MacMillan made a big finish to give UND a thrilling 4-3 overtime win at home. Game stories:
- All week, UND coach Dave Hakstol was saying that Duluth was a very good team that has had a lot of bad luck with results lately. It was the same old story for the Bulldogs this weekend. They played quite well and only came away with one point. I actually thought Duluth carried the play at the end of the third and in OT, but UND won both periods.
- Duluth probably deserved a better fate this weekend. It’s remarkable that this team is on a seven-game winless skid. It’s not going to be easy to snap out of it this weekend, either. St. Cloud State is next for the Bulldogs.
- Remember last year’s game Saturday night in Duluth? UND fell behind early in that one and couldn’t quite catch up. Carter Rowney nearly tied it in the final seconds, but the puck rolled on his stick. This time, UND was able to catch up and finished off the win just in time.
- Everyone learned quite a bit about Zane Gothberg’s mental makeup Saturday. I thought he was going to get pulled after allowing three goals in the first period. As it turns out, leaving him in was the correct move. The third period and OT might have been his best 25 minutes at UND. He looked very sure of himself and wasn’t leaving any rebounds for Duluth when the Bulldogs had guys around the net.
- Hakstol said when he examined the goals, he really couldn’t put too much blame on Gothberg for any of them, which is why he was left in the game. He said maybe you want the goalie to get big for the second goal, the tip-in, but that’s a tough play.
- Danny Kristo is off to quite the start in WCHA play with 10 points in six league games (1.67 points per game). Only CC’s Rylan Schwartz has a higher WCHA point-per game ratio right now. Kristo made two brilliant setups Saturday, drawing all the attention before dishing to MacMillan. In the last home series, he had three brilliant setups that his linemates didn’t bury. This time, MacMillan did it.
- It looked like UND found a few good options with line combos. MacMillan obviously did well on the top line. Rowney looked more comfortable going back to center, which is where he was at the end of last season while racking up the points.
- Despite the three-point weekend, I can guarantee that UND wants more offensive zone possession time and more sustained pressure. Even though they came back and won Saturday, UND didn’t sustain much at all in the third period or overtime.
- Hakstol said Duluth did a great job clogging up the neutral zone. “We didn’t get a lot of pucks deep. When we did, we didn’t have a lot of speed to get in on them and create a cycle or a forecheck.”
- A television station from Montreal was there to do a feature on Kristo and MacMillan. They picked a pretty good game to attend for those purposes.
- A writer from Sports Illustrated attended the game and will be doing a piece for the website. I’m not sure what his angle will be yet.
- UND extended its weekend winning streak at The Ralph to 27 weeks. The last time UND played a weekend at home and didn’t get a win was during the 2009-10 season.
- Referees are human and are going to make mistakes. Hockey, especially when played at a high speed, has got to be one of the most difficult sports to ref, and I don’t think we’ll see a day where there aren’t complaints. That being said, Todd Anderson compounds his problems when he starts yelling at players and coaches. Refs should be defusing situations, not igniting them. Anderson continually does this and he was back at it this weekend. It took him more than 10 minutes to sort out penalties in the second period, in part, because he spent a couple minutes screaming at Duluth’s Cody Danberg.
- The officials helped contribute to two of the longest regular-season games in years this weekend. Friday’s game lasted 2 hours, 46 minutes. Saturday’s lasted 2 hours, 50 minutes. By comparison, that crazy Mankato game from 2007 where there were 12 goals and 169 penalty minutes lasted 2 hours, 28 minutes. I will have to do some research to find out the last time a regular-season game went longer than 2:50. I looked through all the regular-season OT games in the Hakstol Era and none have lasted longer than 2:45.
- And lastly, we had Brad Eidsness on the live chat with us Saturday night and it was great to have him on there. He was able to give some interesting insight (on things such as goaltending, officials, etc.) and he was kind enough to answer a lot of questions from fans. Hopefully, we will have him on again in the future. We’ve also had Brent Davidson log in during chats as well. Always interesting to hear insight from former players.