UND bounces back to split with Colorado CollegeGRAND FORKS — University of North Dakota shuffled its top line for the third time in three games Saturday night.
By: Brad Schlossman , Forum News Service
GRAND FORKS — University of North Dakota shuffled its top line for the third time in three games Saturday night.
But does it really matter who plays with Danny Kristo these days?
Kristo set up Mitch MacMillan and Dan “Jim” Senkbeil for their first-career UND goals, scored two goals himself and was a post away from a hat trick during a 5-3 victory over Colorado College in the series finale at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Kristo now has a goal in seven straight games and has 16 points in that stretch. His center, Corban Knight, is on a 17-game point streak. And whoever winds up on left wing on that line seems to be the beneficiary of the two senior standouts.
“He had two and two, but the offensive side of his game isn’t what stands out,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “He played a real, solid two-way game for us tonight. He led by example.”
MacMillan, a St. Cloud State transfer, was moved to the top line for this game and ended up with his first two points in a UND uniform, including a snipe off of a feed by Kristo at 13:22 of the second period — a goal that gave UND its first lead of the weekend.
After Rylan Schwartz tied the game early in the third on a power-play goal, Kristo helped Senkbeil get his first college goal, the game-winner. Because of a shift change, the fourth-liner ended up on the ice with Kristo, who picked up a loose puck in the circle after Jordan Schmaltz rang one off the post.
Kristo tried to snap a shot under the glove of Colorado College goalie Josh Thorimbert. The netminder got a piece of the puck, but it still rolled behind him in the crease. Senkbeil, who earned the nickname ‘Jim’ last year because a couple of his teammates didn’t know who he was when he showed up on campus, crashed the crease and scored.
“He’s not always the prettiest guy out there,” Kristo said of Senkbeil, “but I think everyone’s pretty excited for him. Huge goal for our team.”
Senkbeil said he couldn’t remember his last goal, but it came as a defenseman while he was playing juniors.
“I was pretty excited,” he said. “It’s been a while. My eyes kind of lit up when the puck was in the crease. I just tried to pound it home.”
UND goaltender Zane Gothberg, starting his first game since Thanksgiving weekend, made sure that Senkbeil’s goal stood as the game winner. Gothberg stopped 10 shots in the final frame and 21 for the game as UND improved to 13-6-3 overall and 8-3-3 in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play.
It wasn’t a great start for UND.
Colorado College (9-13-2, 6-9-1) outshot UND 12-4 in the opening frame and built a 2-1 lead. But UND dominated the second period, outshooting the Tigers 15-1 and grabbing a 3-2 lead on goals by Gleason and MacMillan.
“In the second period, it was nothing major in terms of a major change,” Hakstol said. “It was just one good shift after the next. Maybe some chemistry was part of that. I think it was maybe more guys’ determination.”
Senkbeil added: “We weren’t really ready to play when the puck dropped. We had a sluggish start. But we have a lot great leadership in the locker room. They gave words of encouragement to the guys. We picked it up as the game went along.”
UND evened the season series with the Tigers (2-2) and a showdown against No. 1 Minnesota awaits next weekend in Mariucci Arena.
Although there may be more lineup shuffling before that weekend, it’s a pretty good bet that Senkbeil will be back in the lineup.
“It was great timing for him to find a way to get one for us,” Hakstol said. “Last night, the difference in the hockey game was their fourth line scored a game-winning goal in the third period. Tonight, one of our guys that we don’t normally count on to score a goal went out and did that. He did it the old fashioned way. He went to the top of the crease and found a way to jam one home.”
Notes: UND scored on its only power play of the game. . . Knight, who extended its point streak with an assist in the second period, registered a plus-4 rating. . . UND’s scratches included Connor Gaarder and Colten St. Clair, both of whom played in the series opener. . . Gleason was moved from defense to right wing for the game.