UND sweeps Badgers
GRAND FORKS -- Mark Zengerle ran off a 20-game point streak earlier this season and was ranked third nationally in scoring. He was held to just one second-assist on the weekend.
Justin Schultz is a leading Hobey Baker Award candidate and is the country's most prolific defenseman by a wide margin. He also was held to just one assist on the weekend.
The University of North Dakota slowed down the standout Wisconsin players better than anyone else this season and, in the end, it added up to the team's first sweep of the Badgers at home in a decade.
UND finished it off with a 4-2 victory on Saturday in a game where it outshot Wisconsin 41-22, while its top line once again put forth a dominant effort. Brock Nelson and Danny Kristo both had a goal and an assist and center Corban Knight set one up to help the team improve to 15-10-2 overall and 11-9 in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play.
Michael Parks and Andrew MacWilliam also scored, while defenseman Ben Blood notched a pair of assists for UND, which improved to 11-3-1 since mid-November.
Although the team put forth a strong offensive attack, it was the defense that stood out the most.
UND became the first time since early October to hold both Zengerle and Schultz without a goal in a weekend series.
"They had chances and they're great players," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "But overall, we worked hard to minimize those chances. I thought we did a better job of that tonight than we did last night, especially with Schultz and the way he jumps up and jumps in the play. I thought we did a little better job not allowing him to jump in plays as easily as he did last night."
UND also held the Badgers (12-12-2, 7-11-2 WCHA) to just one power-play goal on the weekend. Assistant coach Dane Jackson's penalty-killers successfully kept the puck away from Schultz on most of Wisconsin's seven opportunities.
"He's definitely a great player," Nelson said. "We didn't want to give him too many opportunities in the middle there on top of the power play. We wanted to deny that pass from Zengerle up top there and we were able to do that for the most part. Guys did a great job when we had to kill, so that was good."
Zengerle finished minus-four on the weekend, while Schultz was even.
Brad Eidsness made his first Saturday-night start of the season for UND and responded by stopping 20 of 22 shots. He also earned his 54th-career victory, tying him for fourth all-time.
UND scored the first for the fourth straight game when Kristo used his speed to gain the zone and perfectly executed a give-and-go with Nelson at 19:05.
Wisconsin tied it just 10 seconds later on a freak play. Schultz missed Keegan Meuer on a long outlet pass and it appeared to be headed for icing. But Meuer got his stick in MacWilliam's legs, tripped the defender and beat him to the puck, one-timing it past Eidsness.
UND's bench was furious about the no-call, but the goal stood and the game was tied 1-1.
Just 2:05 into the second, MacWilliam got it back, blasting a shot from 10 feet behind the blue line past the blocker of Badger goalie Joel Rumpel.
"That's karma," MacWilliam said. "Guess I got it back, so we came out even."
Rumpel said: "I was probably a little deep in my net. When it was coming, it was on end and curving a little bit. I ended up losing it in the stands. It's still unacceptable."
After John Ramage scored from the doorstep to tie it 2-2 at 10:33, Parks gave UND the lead for good when he found the rebound of his own shot from the slot at 15:21.
Nelson added a goal in the third from the doorstep - his team-leading 19th of the year - for the final margin.
"A needed result," Hakstol said. "We knew we had to sit with this result for two weeks. We've got a bye week coming. We wanted to make sure we put the best effort on the ice tonight and I thought we did that from top to bottom. We had to grind out the first two periods again. We came out of that with a one-goal lead.
"We had an outstanding third period. We kept our foot on the gas. We pushed pucks. We took away time and space. I don't think we gave up a Grade A opportunity against."
Schlossman is a sports reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.