Saunders, University of North Dakota top Notre DameNOTRE DAME, Ind. — Clarke Saunders didn’t hesitate.
By: Brad Schlossman, The Dickinson Press
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Clarke Saunders didn’t hesitate.
“I had it,” the University of North Dakota goaltender said. “Somewhere. Not really sure where. But I had it. Leave it at that.”
Saunders was describing a potential game-tying goal by Notre Dame with less than two minutes remaining in which the referee blew his whistle before an Irish player knocked it in the net.
The Irish protested to no avail and UND left smiling after a hard-fought, 2-1 road victory against the No. 7 team in the nation in a sold-out Compton Family Ice Arena.
Many of the 5,022 fans in attendance berated officials Mark Wilkins and Keith Sergott — who awarded the Irish a late power play on a questionable interference call — as they left the ice because of the quick whistle near the end of the game.
“Obviously, it’s nice getting those breaks sometimes,” Saunders said. “I’ve been on the opposite side of it my fair share and I’m sure everyone has. You get some good breaks and you get some bad breaks. Usually, they even out.”
Saunders didn’t need many breaks on Friday, stopping 35 of 36 shots to improve his save percentage to .933 for the season.
Danny Kristo, who grew up in this state, scored a highlight-reel goal on the power play and defenseman Nick Mattson, who played junior hockey in Indianapolis, scored on a blast from the point to help UND improve to 6-2-3 overall and 3-2 in nonconference play.
Corban Knight also added a pair of assists for UND, which will go for its first sweep of the season in today’s series finale (3:05 p.m.).
“I can sum it up by saying it’s a greasy road win,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “They’re a good hockey team and I thought we did a lot of good things in the first two periods. But they did a good job. They’re good at what they do. They clog a lot of lanes, they create turnovers and they transition.”
Knight said: “It was definitely a hockey player’s hockey game with the way both teams were competing.”
Notre Dame outshot UND 18-6 in the opening frame, but UND came away with the first intermission lead thanks to a last-second goal by Mattson.
The UND sophomore defenseman gained the puck at the right point and recognized his forechecker, fellow Minnesotan Nick Larson, didn’t have a stick. Mattson walked the puck to the center of the ice and unleashed a blast through a screen to make it 1-0 with 3.4 seconds left in the frame.
Kristo added to the lead early in the second when he got the puck alone in the left circle on the power play. Kristo skated in on goalie Steven Summerhays, faked a shot, moved it to his backhand and flipped it high in the net for the goal.
“That’s one of those that leaves the whole building saying ‘Did I just see that?’” Hakstol said. “Great hands. He made no mistake about it. He’s the guy we would want in that situation, one-on-one with the goaltender. Highlight-reel play.”
Kristo said he’s been working on that move in practice.
“You need a little time and space to do it,” Kristo said. “Knighter made a good pass. The puck came out there and I just made a move to my backhand and luckily it went in.”
The Irish made it 2-1 on a power-play goal by Anders Lee, his team-leading sixth tally of the season, at 5:25 of the second period.
Notre Dame had four more power plays with a chance to tie the game, including the one in the final minutes of the game, but UND’s penalty killers were strong, led by junior defenseman Derek Forbort.
“You’ve got to be ready and prepared for whatever the job is,” Hakstol said. “Our penalty kill did a good job tonight. We gave up the one off the faceoff and rebound, but beyond that, our penalty kill did a good job, as did our power play. We were one-for-two (on the power play). If not for a post, we could have gone two-for-two.”
Notes: UND forward Michael Parks made the trip but did not play because of a leg injury he sustained last week against Minnesota-Duluth. Parks has played just one period this season. . . The parents of former UND captain Matt Greene attended the game. They live in Grand Ledge, Mich. . . This was UND’s first game at Notre Dame since January 1981. Notre Dame was in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association at that time. . . Knight extended his point streak to six games. . . Jordan Schmaltz led UND with four shot blocks.