SAINT CLOUD, Minn. — Aaron Dell said he had “seen more subtle kicks in soccer” than the one off Ben Hanowski’s skate Saturday night.
With 31.5 seconds to go in North Dakota’s 3-2 win at St. Cloud State, Huskies forward Hanowski swung his skate at a loose puck sitting in the middle of the crease. It split North Dakota goalie Dell’s pads and went to the back of the goal. North Dakota players immediately huddled around the referee, begging for a video review.
“I was right on top of the crease and I saw (Hanowski) kick it in right away, so it was kind of a relief,” said North Dakota forward Corban Knight. “We had about a five guys around the ref, barking in his ear to go review it. It was a playoff-like atmosphere tonight.”
The goal was disallowed, and North Dakota thwarted further St. Cloud pressure and came away with the win, led by Knight’s two goals in the first period that gave North Dakota its second first-intermission lead of the weekend, but only the sixth of the season.
“We talked about starting at the drop of the puck and we got a good first period from everybody,” said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol, who earned win 200 for his career. “It carried through to a close win.”
North Dakota got on the board when Danny Kristo carried the puck out of the right corner and centered a pass by St. Cloud defender Jordy Christian to Knight skating down the slot, who beat Ryan Faragher glove side 1:57 into the game.
The Huskies answered with an Andrew Prochno goal 53 seconds later, but Knight struck again at the 6:07 mark when Faragher didn’t cover up on Joe Gleason’s perimeter shot and Knight swooped in to bury the trash.
“The momentum shifted pretty fast after that goal,” Knight said. “It was nice to get the lead back and keep it for the rest of the game.”
North Dakota took a two-goal lead 2:50 into the second period on a wraparound goal by Brock Nelson, but the Huskies again had an answer. Jared Festler took the puck all the way to the goal line before he backhanded it to David Eddy in the slot, who tipped it past Dell with 5:45 left in the second period.
Though the third period finished without a goal for either side, there was plenty of excitement, and loads of opportunities for the Huskies to tie the game. North Dakota’s Andrew MacWilliam committed an interference penalty with 3:12 remaining in the game, but the Huskies couldn’t find the equalizer. The St. Cloud power play went 0-for-7, on the weekend but had 10 power play shots on goal in four chances Saturday.
“We had all the chances, but we couldn’t find a way to put it in,” Prochno said. “We got a lot of shots through, and got some rebounds, but we couldn’t get a goal out of it.”
Hanowski hit the pipe on a wide-open net from close range to the left of Dell with 2:10 remaining in the third period. After sitting out Friday’s game, Dell was very steady in net for North Dakota.
“It was a character win tonight, and was great for us to get a dirty road win,” said Dell, who stopped 28 shots.
While the Huskies were throwing everything at the North Dakota net to tie the game, Ryan Faragher was doing everything he could to keep St. Cloud in the game on the other end. Faragher finished with 33 saves for St. Cloud, and stopped 84-of-88 shots on the weekend for the Huskies.
North Dakota (13-10-2 overall, 9-9-0 WCHA) will try to avenge an early-season sweep next week when it hosts Wisconsin at Ralph Engelstad Arena. St. Cloud (10-12-4, 7-8-3) plays a home-and-home series with Minnesota next week, starting at 7:07 p.m. Friday at Mariucci Arena.