For the second time in three years, UND rallied for a victory in a season-opening game at Ralph Engelstad Arena. In 2011, it was Brock Nelson leading UND back with two third-period goals. This time, it was Rocco Grimaldi with a four-point night as UND topped Vermont 5-3. Game stories:
NCHC top performers
4 points — Rocco Grimaldi, UND, 1 goal, 3 assists
3 points — Sean Kuraly, Miami, 3 assists
2 points — Joey Benik, SCSU, 2 goals
2 points — Mark MacMillan, UND, 1 goal, 1 assist
2 points — Drake Caggiula, UND, 1 goal, 1 assist
2 points — Nic Dowd, SCSU 1 goal, 1 assist
2 points — Austin Ortega, Omaha, 1 goal, 1 assist
2 points — Cody Murphy, Miami, 1 goal, 1 assist
Other notes and thoughts:
- I actually voted Zane Gothberg as the No. 1 star of the game. I thought he was terrific in stopping all 17 shots he faced and he allowed UND to win this game. UND coach Dave Hakstol even admitted after the game that if Gothberg allowed one goal there and it went to 4-1, UND probably would have lost.
- Penalties were a major story in this game. Vermont had 11 power plays. UND had 7. The directive from the NCAA was to call games tighter this season, so we might see a couple of these early on as the players adjust. The players even said as much in postgame interviews.
- Of course, in special teams-fests like that, you need to win the special teams battle and UND did that. The power play scored a pair of goals and UND held Vermont to 1 PPG on 11 chances.
- Time spent on power play in this game was 14:50 for Vermont and 7:29 for UND. That adds up to 22:19 of power-play time — more than a third of the game.
- Troy Stecher earns the title as most impressive freshman in this contest. He was playing with a ton of confidence and didn’t look like a rookie at all. Forwards are going to have to know when Stecher is on the ice and when to cover because he loves jumping up.
- I thought the crowd was outstanding and as into the game as any nonconference season opener that I can remember. No Hockey East building draws more than than 6,500 per game, so this was something that Vermont players were not used to.
- UND doesn’t have Corban Knight anymore and that showed in the faceoff circle. UND did win the faceoff battle, but at a narrow margin, 39-37. Jake Fallon went 20-12 for the Catamounts to lead that category.
- Since losing two games at the 2009 IceBreaker in Agannis Arena, UND is 3-0-1 in openers.
- It’s got to be a huge confidence boost for Brendan O’Donnell to have a nice start to the season and score a goal.
- UND’s top three lines all were productive. The fourth line didn’t see a lot of ice time with the special teams.