UND routs Denver 6-1DENVER — Hobey Baker Award candidates Corban Knight and Danny Kristo didn’t see the ice for the final five or six minutes of the game Saturday night.
By: Brad Schlossman , Forum News Service
DENVER — Hobey Baker Award candidates Corban Knight and Danny Kristo didn’t see the ice for the final five or six minutes of the game Saturday night.
By that time, the University of North Dakota didn’t need them anymore.
UND handed the University of Denver its worst home loss in more than five years — a 6-1 blowout in a game that featured 16 power plays and turned chippy at the end.
Kristo, Carter Rowney, Rocco Grimaldi, Mark MacMillan, Michael Parks and Dillon Simpson all scored goals, while Clarke Saunders stopped 28 of 29 shots in net for UND, which gained a series split.
“It was a lot better,” said Simpson, who had a three-point night. “I think, as a team, we came with a lot more energy. Guys were rolling with short shifts and guys were having fun out there, which was good to see. It was a big difference from yesterday.”
UND improved to 17-9-6 overall and 12-6-6 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, where they moved into a third-place tie with Nebraska Omaha, three points back of first-place St. Cloud State. UND moved to seventh in the Pairwise Rankings.
“Obviously, it was a big bounce back win after last night,” said MacMillan, who had three points. “Obviously last night wasn’t good enough. We came out today and our special teams were great and that’s what you have to do at this time of year to win games.”
UND scored three times on the power play, while killing six of seven Pioneer advantages.
“This game had so much specialty team play that there were a lot of guys who didn’t get a lot of minutes,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “I think the difference from last night is that every time we had guys on the ice, they were contributing one way or another. Whatever their role is, I thought guys played them well tonight. I thought that’s what we were missing in last night’s game.”
UND scored three times in the first period, once late in the second and tacked on two in the third as the Pioneers (16-10-5, 11-8-5) lost their composure. Denver was whistled for 10 penalties in the final 26 minutes of the game, including six in the final five minutes.
As the game deteriorated, UND kept its star players on the bench.
“There’s different ways to deal with some of the crap at the end of the game,” Hakstol said. “One way is to go out and respond and drop the gloves, but at this time of year, that doesn’t help us. The other way, we could put our No. 1 unit out there, but I don’t believe that’s the right thing to do.”
“We gave guys opportunities. They went out, they executed, they scored a goal. I thought they did a great job.”
Denver got off to a good start when Ty Loney converted a Nolan Zajac feed for a power-play goal at 8:50 of the opening frame, but UND stormed back with three goals in the final 10 minutes of the first.
Kristo put away a feed from Knight at 10:34, Rowney followed up a MacMillan rush for a goal at 18:24 and Kristo fed Grimaldi on a three-on-two rush for a pretty goal with just 11.8 seconds left in the first.
UND killed four straight Pioneer power plays to start the second, then took advantage of a five-minute major penalty to Denver forward Daniel Doremus, who checked Connor Gaarder from behind into the boards.
With less than a second remaining in the middle frame, MacMillan backhanded a rebound in to make it 4-1.
“That’s big momentum for the next period,” MacMillan said. “When you’re on the other side of that, it’s demoralizing. Last minute of play, if you’re letting in a goal, that’s demoralizing. Obviously, it’s big for us to get that and get momentum going into the next period.”
UND has two weeks left in the regular season. Next weekend, it hosts Bemidji State. Then, UND finishes with a road trip at Minnesota State-Mankato.
Anything from the MacNaughton Cup to being on the road for the first round of the WCHA playoffs is still possible. But for now, UND is feeling good about going 3-1 on back-to-back road trips to Omaha and Denver.
“I think we responded pretty well,” Rowney said. “After yesterday, there was a bitter taste in our mouths. From Clarke all the way out, we stepped up, did the job and executed our game plan.”