Grimaldi records 4 points as UND tops DenverGRAND FORKS — Rocco Grimaldi blamed himself for the University of North Dakota’s 2-2 tie on Friday night, saying his inability to capitalize on a scoring chance cost his team a point in the standings.
By: Brad Schlossman, The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS — Rocco Grimaldi blamed himself for the University of North Dakota’s 2-2 tie on Friday night, saying his inability to capitalize on a scoring chance cost his team a point in the standings.
On Saturday night, Grimaldi decided to leave no doubt.
The electrifying freshman scored one goal and added three assists for a four-point night as UND beat Denver 6-3 in Ralph Engelstad Arena to grab three points from the league’s first-place team. Grimaldi set up Carter Rowney, who also had a four-point night, for two of those goals and launched eight shots at Denver goaltender Sam Brittain in a dazzling performance.
“I was pretty upset with myself yesterday,” said Grimaldi, who has 10 points in 10 Western Collegiate Hockey Association games. “I thought if I would have put that in, we would have won. I had a couple of chances I didn’t bury. (Saturday), in the first period, I had a breakaway and I don’t know what I was thinking. It was a terrible move.
“At that point, I was thinking about myself. I said, ‘That’s not going to happen.’ Whenever I rely on myself, I’m not going to get it done. I have to trust in the Lord to do that. I started leaning on him and great things happened. It’s a big win for our hockey club.”
UND improved to 8-5-3 overall and 5-2-3 in WCHA play. Denver, meanwhile, dropped to 9-5-2 and 7-3-2. After a blistering 9-1 start, the Pioneers are winless in six straight games – their longest winless stretch since the 1999-00 season.
Danny Kristo, Derek Forbort and Corban Knight also scored goals, while Drake Caggiula and Dillon Simpson had two-assist games for UND, which will travel to Michigan Tech next weekend in its last series before the Christmas break.
“I thought we played a pretty solid series this weekend,” Grimaldi said. “We didn’t get the full result we wanted, but we got a pretty good piece of the pie. We’re looking to go to Tech next weekend and get four points.”
After getting outshot in seven straight games — the longest stretch in a decade — UND has now outshot its opponent in the last four games by at least 10 shots.
“I think we’ve played good hockey over the last four games,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “I probably don’t put quite as much stock in pure shots on goal as maybe some others.”
I look at scoring opportunities. Most importantly, over our last four games, we’ve outchanced our opponents by a significant margin night in and night out. That tells me we’re doing a decent job defensively. We’re creating offensive. That’s the most important thing. That’s the most important step we’ve taken over the last couple weekends.”
Denver got off to a great start when Grant Arnold picked off an errant pass and snapped a shot past Clarke Saunders 1 minute, 25 seconds into the game. But UND scored the next four goals, igniting Ralph Engelstad Arena’s sold-out crowd of 11,899.
Grimaldi scored on a snap shot, Forbort put home a rebound of a Grimaldi shot on the power play, Rowney pounced on a rebound of a Grimaldi shot for a shorthanded goal and Rowney tapped home a backdoor feed by Grimaldi.
Late in the second period, Dan Senkbeil was called for a checking from behind major and Denver was able to get back in the game on power-play goals by Ty Loney and Joey LaLeggia, but UND shut the door the rest of the way. I went over to Senks before the third and said, ‘Don’t worry about that, we got you. The team took that penalty, not you, that’s on us. We’re going to win the game for you,’” Grimaldi said. “And we did that.”
Kristo fired home a shot late in the third and Knight, who extended his point streak to 11 games, added an empty-netter.
“Things are clicking,” Grimaldi said. “Hopefully, that’s going to continue for the rest of the year.”
Notes: UND defenseman Nick Mattson was scratched (coaches’ decision) for the first time in his career. Andrew Panzarella dressed in his spot. . . Denver goalie Juho Olkinuora, the No. 1 star of the game Friday night for making 31 saves, did not dress Saturday night. . . Stephane Pattyn got the hard hat as the players’ choice for player of the game.