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UND beats Omaha on late goal

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Jasper Weatherby celebrates his first-period goal with linemate Dixon Bowen on Friday in Omaha's Baxter Arena. Photo by Kent Sievers/Omaha World Herald2 / 2

OMAHA, Neb. -- There was an omen Thursday.

At the end of North Dakota’s practice in Baxter Arena, the team held its weekly shootout drill. It took longer than normal, but freshman Jackson Keane finally ended it with a pretty goal and his teammates covered him in snow to celebrate.

On Friday night, Jan. 18, Keane came through in the end again with a pretty goal -- only this one was a bit more important and he received a much warmer celebration from his teammates.

Keane’s snipe on a three-on-two rush with just 1:50 left in the third period gave UND a third-straight dramatic victory in the span of eight days -- this one a 4-3 win over Omaha.

Last weekend, the Fighting Hawks swept Colorado College with back-to-back overtime wins, and Friday’s game against the Mavericks appeared like it was headed for the extra session, too.

But UND forward Collin Adams led a rush up the right side late in the third. When he got to the right circle, forward Rhett Gardner drove the net to create space and Adams dished a perfect pass to Keane, who was the trailer.

The rookie from Winnipeg, Manitoba, snapped a shot past the glove of Evan Weninger for his second goal of the season and his third point of the night. Keane had one point in 12 games entering the weekend.

“It feels good. I mean, it’s been a while,” said Keane, whose only point this season was a goal against Alaska Anchorage on Nov. 23. “That’s a big goal for our team and it’s always nice to contribute.”

UND improved to 12-9-1 overall and 6-5 in National Collegiate Hockey Conference play, where the Fighting Hawks are just a mere two points out of second place.

They also jumped from No. 23 to No. 18 in the Pairwise Rankings.

“It’s three games in a row of finding a way to win,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “I think we’ve learned a little bit throughout this last stretch here. And again, tomorrow, that’s a huge game. Tonight means nothing if we don’t get after it tomorrow.”

UND will go for its fourth win in a row and second-straight sweep at 7:07 p.m.

UND dominated Omaha in draws in the first period (16-3) and one of those faceoff wins led to an early goal. Right off the draw, UND forward Dixon Bowen dropped a pass to Kiersted at the left point. Kiersted wristed a shot through a Jackson Keane screen to make it 1-0 just 2:40 into the game.

The Mavericks evened it less than two minutes later on their first power play.

Omaha’s Zach Jordan, Fredrik Olofsson and Mason Morelli entered the weekend ranking 1-2-3 in the NCHC in power-play points and they connected for a goal at 4:26. Morelli’s point shot hit UND defenseman Andrew Peski, who was shaken up. Olofsson picked up the puck and threw it toward the net, where Jordan scored on a rebound.

UND regained the lead near the midway point of the frame on its first power play chance of the game. Defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker launched a point shot that Omaha goalie Evan Weninger stopped. But Jones was camped out on top of the crease and had two whacks at it with his backhand. He scored on the second attempt to extend his point streak to five games.

The Fighting Hawks opened up a two-goal lead for the third game in a row early in the second period. Three seconds after a power play ended, Keane sent a shot from the right circle toward Weninger, who was in perfect position to make an easy save, but Weatherby tipped the shot with the shaft of his stick into the corner of the net at 3:40.

Omaha cut the lead back to one goal thanks to its potent power play. Although the Mavericks didn’t generate many chances in the first 90 seconds of the advantage, but Jordan spotted Ryan Galt on top of the crease alone and fired a hard pass in his direct. It hit Galt’s skate and got past Scheel at 7:27.

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