College Hockey:
Saunders stops 42 as North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth battle to tie

— Shoot first, ask questions later.

That’s been the story of Minnesota-Duluth’s success in the past few seasons, with high-flying forwards like Mike Connolly or Justin Fontaine or J.T. Brown stealing the show. And in a reminder of that, a wide-open offensive battle ensued Friday night, as UMD (2-5-2, 0-3-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) put 46 shots on net and scored a late third-period goal to earn a 4-4 tie with No. 6 North Dakota (4-3-2, 2-1-2 WCHA) at Ralph Engelstad Arena Friday night.

Danny Kristo and Austin Farley both had a pair of goals for their respective clubs, but a consistent attack by the Bulldogs wasn’t quite enough to end a five-game winless streak. The Bulldogs put 15 shots on goal in the first, 14 in the second and 17 in the third, but couldn’t get the game-winner past Clarke Saunders, who finished with 42 saves — the 14th time he’s had at least 40 saves in his career.

The Bulldogs lost four of their five double-digit goal scorers from a year ago, but Friday night was a momentary flashback to that offensive prowess that UMD was known for the last three years.

“I thought it was a very good hockey game,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “Both teams traded opportunities — a play at each end. I thought we got better as the game went on. Overall, it was probably one of the better games that we’ve played as far as consistency between periods.”

“I thought Duluth played well,” Kristo said. “They came at us hard and definitely got a lot of pucks to the net. We’ve probably got to shape up our D-zone a little bit. We gave up a lot of shots tonight.

UND — touted to be one of the best defenses in the nation — gave up 46 shots, the most they’ve given up since 2006.

North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth traded first period goals — one from Mike Seidel on a turnover, one on a point shot from Andrew MacWilliam.

The period ended tied at one, but UND suffered a loss anyway as Michael Parks, who returned to the lineup after missing the first eight games of the season, suffered an undisclosed injury and did not return. Coach Dave Hakstol was forced to shuffle lines the rest of the way.

“I didn’t expect that, obviously,” Hakstol said. “He went out early in the game and that puts us down to 11 forwards — but we’ve been there before. Little bit of mixing and matching throughout, and that’s the nature of the game.”

Farley’s two goals were bookended by Kristo’s two in a wild second period that produced eight penalties and four power plays.

Kristo’s first came on a goal-mouth scramble when Corban Knight found a puck that Aaron Crandall (29 saves) couldn’t reach, dishing it to Kristo for the one-timer at 1:39.

Farley responded however, first finishing a power-play goal at 6:57, then creating a chance with speed before getting the puck to trickle through Clarke Saunders’ legs at 10:03.

Just 36 seconds later however, Kristo’s second of the night on a drop pass from Drake Caggiula evened it at three.

The game remained an open one, with shots climbing into the 30s and 40s for both teams. UND briefly took a 4-3 lead at 12:47 thanks to Rocco Grimaldi’s goal from in tight, but Drew Olson made it 4-4 with a hard shot from the left circle at 14:08.

“I liked the fight that we had,” Hakstol said, “but we need to do a better job — again, with seven minutes left in the hockey game, we built a one-goal lead and I thought we gave that up a little too easily with their fourth goal in our D-zone coverage.”

UND put the only two shots on goal in the overtime period, but neither team could come away with the victory.

“It was a good tough battle, which was to be expected,” Sandelin said. “You know what, maybe fitting the way it ended.”

While North Dakota liked the pace, it’ll look to tie up the UMD offense Saturday night.

“I think it was a pretty good pace game all the way though,” Grimaldi said. “A lot of offense and a lot of chances. We just didn’t bury on some of them. But tomorrow is a new day so we’re getting ready for tomorrow.”

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