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North Dakota hockey scoreless streak record within Johnson’s reach

GRAND FORKS -- Four weeks ago, Denver's Tariq Hammond threw a pass from the wall to the back door, where teammate Grant Arnold easily knocked it in the net.That's the last time anyone has scored a goal on Cam Johnson.Yes, it has been 28 days, 10 ...

GRAND FORKS - Four weeks ago, Denver’s Tariq Hammond threw a pass from the wall to the back door, where teammate Grant Arnold easily knocked it in the net.
That’s the last time anyone has scored a goal on Cam Johnson.
Yes, it has been 28 days, 10 periods, three-and-a-half games and 218 minutes and 38 seconds of game time since the UND sophomore goaltender has allowed a goal.
Tonight, he has a chance to set UND’s all-time scoreless streak record, which has stood for 62 years.
If Cam Johnson blanks Alabama Huntsville for 31 minutes, 4 seconds, he will surpass the mark set by Spike Schultz in 1954, when he blanked Michigan Tech in four consecutive games.
Johnson’s stretch currently is the second-longest in UND history. More impressive, the entirety of it has come while playing against ranked opponents.
“I’m going to keep trying to do what I’ve been doing,” said Johnson, who has yet to lose a college start. “The team has been playing well in front of me, so I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and go from there.”
Goaltender figured to be a concern this season with the early signing of Zane McIntyre, who won the Mike Richter Award as the nation’s top goalie last year. McIntyre played in every game for UND a season ago.
Johnson expected to contend for the starting job this season, but went down with a groin injury just two weeks into the season. He missed 10 games, while Matt Hrynkiw took over the No. 1 goalie job.
“I just focused on getting healthy day in and day out,” Johnson said. “It was tough at times thinking about when I was going to come back and whether I was going to play. I just tried to focus mentally. I knew my shot was going to come back around. I told myself I’m going to jump all over it, because it’s not every day you get a shot to play at a university like this.”
Since his injury, Johnson has been spectacular. He has allowed three goals in six games, running his save percentage to .955 and his goals-against average to 1.20.
Aided by a strong defensive corps that hasn’t allowed opponents any easy chances, Johnson has some of the best numbers in the country.
Now, his challenge is picking up where he left off at the end of the first half of the season.
“I just tried to relax and take my mind off hockey,” Johnson said of his Christmas break. “You don’t want to completely dial out, but I just tried to relax and not think about hockey as much you normally would. . . take a break and enjoy time with the family. But by the end of the break, you’re anxious to get back.”
No Schmaltz, Boeser
Johnson and the defense might have to be extra sharp this weekend as UND is without two of the country’s top offensive performers in Nick Schmaltz and Brock Boeser. The duo is currently playing at the World Junior Championship in Finland.
Along with linemate Drake Caggiula, UND’s top line has accounted for 40 percent of the team’s offensive production. UND will have to find ways to score without the top line it leaned on so heavily during the first half.
Coach Brad Berry said he’ll likely move Luke Johnson and Chris Wilkie up to the top line with Caggiula, and they may move Christian Wolanin back up to forward to compensate for the absences.
The line of Bryn Chyzyk, Johnny Simonson and Austin Poganski is expected to stay together.
“There’s opportunity now for guys to be in different roles,” Berry said. “Our guys are going to embrace that. Obviously it changes the dynamic a little bit having the two skill guys out of our lineup, but we have other skill guys in our lineup. It’s just more opportunity for other guys.”
Rare meeting
UND’s only meeting against Alabama Huntsville came in 1989. UND swept a two-game series in Grand Forks.
The Chargers, members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, have played one National Collegiate Hockey Conference team this season, splitting with Colorado College last month.
This weekend marks UND’s last nonconference action of the season. UND is 7-1-2 outside of its league.

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