Chalk up Game 1 as an ugly game that Danny Kristo wouldn’t let UND lose. Kristo’s big-time plays helped UND escape with a 5-3 victory in a game that had several road blocks. Game stories:
- UND is in fifth in the Pairwise after Friday night. If UND closes out the series, I think it can feel confident it has secured an NCAA tournament spot.
- UND coach Dave Hakstol is now 9-for-9 in 20-win seasons. UND is 31-8 in WCHA playoffs under Hakstol and has a chance to go to an 11th straight Final Five.
- Home teams went 6-0 in Game 1s of the WCHA playoffs.
- For video and discussion on Andrew MacWilliam’s hit on David Johnstone, go to this post.
- The biggest talking point of this game has to be goaltending. Zane Gothberg has been playing outstanding, and we’ve seen how he’s capable of taking over games as he did last weekend against Mankato. But he gave up two bad ones on Friday and we’ve seen him allow soft ones on four occasions now. If he can get rid of those from his game, he’s almost surely the No. 1 guy and a big-time goalie. But those goals can be hard to swallow, especially at this time of year.
- The coaches have a tough decision in net going forward. Do you get Gothberg right back in and have him shake off the tough ones? Or are the soft ones too big of a risk right now and go with Clarke Saunders? I have no clue. Glad I don’t have to make that decision. Whatever happens, it will be debated.
- I thought one big mistake Tech made was getting involved with scrums and taking bad penalties. The way to beat UND is to lull the place to sleep. All they did during those scrums was get The Ralph riled up.
- Jujhar Khaira took a bad penalty behind the play while Tech was on a two-on-one. He was prone to those early in the year but actually has done a very nice job cutting down on PIMs in the second half.
- Danny Kristo now has 48 points for the season, two shy of 50. UND’s only 50-point guys of the last decade? Matt Frattin, T.J. Oshie, Ryan Duncan, Brandon Bochenski and Zach Parise. All Hobey finalists. Kristo has had a three-point game in all three matchups against the Huskies.
- Tech went with Jamie Phillips in net. I don’t know if you can fault him on any of the goals. If any, maybe he wants Derek Rodwell’s back? But that was a rocket off the crossbar and in. Even so, I think the Huskies will go with Pheonix Copley in Game 2. UND has not seen Copley yet this season.
- UND had outshot Tech 12 times in a row. This is the first time the Huskies outshot UND since Game 2 of the 2009 playoffs. Tech outshot UND by 10 on Friday, though I’m not sure if the Huskies had more Grade A chances.
- Rocco Grimaldi continues to be snakebit. Once he gets one to fall, there might be a waterfall of goals. He was buzzing again Friday.
- Since opening weekend, Colorado College is the only unranked team to beat UND.
- Tough night for Derek Shepherd and Marco Hunt, beginning with the MacWilliam call. Greg Shepherd was in the house watching. One hot topic this summer is bound to be deciding whether refs can look at replay when determining whether to call a major or not. I think it would be OK. I mean, it’s not like they are saving time right now discussing the call for five minutes when they could be reviewing it.
- It was a thin crowd because of the poor weather and travel conditions. We heard Interstate 29 was brutal coming up and there were a number of cars in the ditch and accidents. If you are coming up for Game 2, drive safely.
Elsewhere around the league….
MSU-Mankato 4, Omaha 3, OT: Chase Grant scored the OT winner as Mankato won its first playoff game in three years. It is one win away from its first Final Five since 2003. Omaha is now 0-8 in its last eight playoff games and 0-12 in its last 12 games in the month of March.
Minnesota 2, Bemidji State 1, OT: Beaver goalie Andrew Walsh stopped 49 of 51 shots, but it wasn’t enough as Kyle Rau scored the overtime winner to put the Gophers up 1-0 in the series.
St. Cloud State 6, Anchorage 1: The Seawolves have now been outscored 19-3 in the last three games. They played with just 16 skaters tonight and, if that wasn’t bad enough, one got ejected early. Jonny Brodzinski scored twice for SCSU, while David Morley and Joey Benik had 3-point nights.
Wisconsin 3, Duluth 1: The Badgers moved up to No. 16 in the Pairwise Rankings, the last possible spot for an NCAA tournament berth. John Ramage and Nic Kerdiles scored goals for the Badgers, who have not lost back-to-back games since Kerdiles became eligible Nov. 30. That’s bad news for the Dogs.
Denver 5, Colorado College 3: The teams threw 81 shots on goal in an offense-fest. The Pioneers, who played with five defensemen minus Josiah Didier, received goals from each of their top three lines.