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UND rebounds to split with Saints

FNS Photo by John Stennes The University of North Dakota's Rocco Grimaldi, right, opens the scoring with a first period short-handed goal past St. Lawrence goalie Matt Weninger during a nonconference hockey game on Saturday at the Ralph Englestad Areana in Grand Forks.

GRAND FORKS — When the buzzer sounded, there was a huge roar from the Ralph Engelstad Arena crowd and a look of relief from the five University of North Dakota players on the ice.

It wasn’t a work of art, but after the last month, any win is worth celebrating.

UND scored two goals in the final 1 minute, 5 seconds of the second period and withstood a barrage of shots in the third to beat St. Lawrence 3-2 in front of 10,532 and earn a series split.

Connor Gaarder had a goal and an assist, while Stephane Pattyn and Rocco Grimaldi each scored goals to help UND improve to 5-7-2 overall and snap a 10-game stretch where the team won just two games.

“We were real disappointed last night as a group,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol, whose team lost 5-2 in the series opener. “It’s been a challenging 24 hours. It’s nice to have a positive outcome at the end of that 24 hours. We’re looking forward. We have a lot of work to do. We know that. I think we’re up for that challenge. It’s going to be continued small steps for our team. That’s what we’re going to work for this week.”

After Friday’s loss, UND held a players meeting, where they opened the floor for anyone to say what was on their mind.

“Everyone said what they thought we needed to do,” said Pattyn, an alternate captain. “We had some great conversations. We definitely grew up as a team last night and I think today helped that, too.”

UND came out strong in the opening period, outshooting the Saints 12-3 and building a 1-0 lead on a shorthanded goal by Grimaldi. After that, the Saints slowly started to turn the tide of the game, but UND used a brief stretch late in the second to earn the win.

With 1:29 left in the middle frame, Kyle Essery took a high sticking penalty and UND took advantage. Gaarder rifled a shot from the left circle through a screen to give UND a 2-1 lead with 1:05 remaining.

Just 31 seconds later, UND pressured the Saints and took a 3-1 lead on a goal by Pattyn. Gaarder started the sequence by dropping a pass to Dillon Simpson just inside the blue line. Simpson found Pattyn at the inside of the right circle and Pattyn shot through a Derek Rodwell screen.

“The room was down,” Saints coach Greg Carvel said after the two goals. “But we did a good job re-setting. I thought, in the third period, we were really good. We dominated play and their goalie made a couple big saves.”

UND sophomore goalie Zane Gothberg allowed a tally to the nation’s leading goal-scorer, Greg Carey, at 5:37 of the third period, but shut the door the rest of the way. Gothberg finished with 25 saves. The game marked just the second time in 16 games that St. Lawrence was held under three goals.

“I’m pretty proud of the guys and how we bounced back from last night,” Gaarder said. “It was a hard-fought game. Everyone laid everything they had on the line, so I feel good about that one.”

The game wasn’t over until Pattyn blocked a Carey shot with eight seconds left. The puck flew out of the zone and UND was able to finally celebrate a win.

“Real hard-fought game,” Hakstol said. “We competed hard for 60 minutes. They pushed real hard in the last portion of the third period. I said we wanted to come back and do a little better tonight. I thought we did a little better.

Carvel said he was pleased with the weekend as his St. Lawrence squad moved to 8-6-2.

“It’s fun for us to come out here and test ourselves against teams we don’t see very often,” he said. “UND is perennially a very strong team. They are a little bit off right now, but it’s still tough to come out here. I thought our team showed very well. I thought we looked like a good hockey team.”

UND now turns its focus to Western Michigan. The team heads to Kalamazoo, Mich., next weekend for a two-game series.

“That last 24 hours weren’t much fun,” Pattyn said. “Not much excitement going on in the dressing room. We got focused and knew we had to come out and do a job. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to come out hard and set a tone to move forward.”

Notes: UND scratched defenseman Nick Mattson and forward Wade Murphy and inserted Mitch MacMillan and Rodwell, who has missed the last three games due to injury. . . The Saints outshot UND 13-2 in the third period. . . Gaarder entered the weekend on a 27-game goal drought, but scored in both games.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 12th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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