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UND hockey's defeat of Michigan in the books as dominating effort

GRAND FORKS -- University of Michigan fans sat quietly for much of Saturday's NCAA Midwest Regional final in Cincinnati's U.S. Bank Arena.They weren't used to seeing what was transpiring on the ice.North Dakota outshot Michigan 49-27 en route to ...

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North Dakota’s Rhett Gardner heads behind Michigan’s net with JT Compher in pursuit in the third period of Saturday’s 2016 NCAA Men’s Midwest Regional Final at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (FNS Photo by Jesse Trelstad)

GRAND FORKS - University of Michigan fans sat quietly for much of Saturday’s NCAA Midwest Regional final in Cincinnati’s U.S. Bank Arena.
They weren’t used to seeing what was transpiring on the ice.
North Dakota outshot Michigan 49-27 en route to a 5-2 victory, clinching a spot in the NCAA Frozen Four for a third straight season.
It marked the biggest shot disparity in any Michigan game in eight-and-a-half years.
The last time that Michigan was outshot by 22-plus was Dec. 27, 2007, when the Wolverines were outshot 50-21 against Providence in the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.
Ironically, Michigan won that game against Providence 6-0, thanks to a 50-save shutout by goalie Billy Sauer.
A total of 344 games went by without the Wolverines being outshot by 22-plus.
They were outshot by 21 once - a 4-2 victory over Notre Dame on March 19, 2011. And they were outshot by 20 twice, including the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four semifinal game against North Dakota. Michigan won that game, too, 2-0.
On Saturday night, Michigan was unable to wiggle out of this shot differential, despite a strong performance by senior goalie Steve Racine (44 saves).
UND had a game plan against Michigan’s potent top line - which featured three Hobey Baker Award finalists in Kyle Connor, J.T. Compher and Tyler Motte.
The Fighting Hawks (32-6-4) wanted to make it difficult for Michigan to carry the puck in the zone and force the Wolverines to chip and chase it. The strategy appeared to pay off. Michigan’s only two goals came on the power play and just after a power play expired.
Offensively, UND piled up 24 shots on goal in the first period alone and added 12 shots in the second period and 13 in the third period.
“Successful hockey starts with defense first,” UND assistant coach Matt Shaw said on WDAY Radio on Monday night. “As much as we want to give players creativity with the puck, you have to get the puck first. That’s something that’s really important for us. We played two of the most offensive teams in the nation this weekend. We were able to score 11 goals. It wasn’t all us sitting there waiting for offense. You have to check for your chances. Before you can score, you have to do the right things away from the puck. Our guys have really embraced that.
“Everyone always wants to play offense, but not everyone wants to play defense. You earn the right to go create offense when you battle to get the puck back. We have that willingness to go play defense, rather than hoping the puck comes to us.”
Bulldogs lose goalie
Minnesota-Duluth became the second National Collegiate Hockey Conference team to lose a player early to an NHL contract this offseason.
Starting sophomore goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, giving up his final two years of college eligibility.
Kaskisuo posted a .923 save percentage and a 1.92 goals-against average for the Bulldogs, whose season ended Saturday night in a regional final game against Boston College.
Earlier this month, Nebraska Omaha forward and leading scorer Jake Guentzel signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins, giving up his final year of college eligibility.

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