GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Corban Knight’s career-long point streak has now extended to 14 games, erasing the previously-held title of a 13-game streak set in the 2009-10 season at North Dakota.
Knight’s two goals lifted North Dakota (11-5-3) to a 5-1 victory over Holy Cross (10-5-2) in front of 10,741 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena Friday night.
Recently named the Hockey Commissioners’ Association National Division I Player of the Month for December, Knight’s performance in the season thus far has only continued its persistence as his presence in the lineup instigated a quick start for UND.
“I think we’re all pretty happy with it,” Knight said. “We came out and we were changing quick and getting fresh guys out there and getting everybody involved, so I think it was good way to set the tone for the game.”
North Dakota showed its momentum early when Carter Rowney tipped in a pass from the bottom of the circle at 1:21 past Matt Ginn (36 saves).
Minutes later, Knight added a goal at 4:20 after a pass near the blue line from Danny Kristo to give North Dakota its second power-play goal of the game.
At 16:32, he continued the streak while posting UND’s third goal after Dillon Simpson’s pass to the right circle gave Knight the opportunity to shoot one past Ginn.
“[Knight] continued the momentum that he finished the first half with,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “Obviously, he had a good night offensively, but he’s played well in all three zones and that’s the key to his whole game. He’s playing a complete game and he’s reliable all the way through the ice.”
At the end of the first period, North Dakota claimed the edge as the teams headed to the locker rooms with the shots totaling 18 for UND and just four for the Crusaders.
Holy Cross gave way to a strong UND offense early in the second period as Michael Parks’ shot on the net, after being carried down the ice on a rush, was deflected and then put in at 4:30 of the second period.
Despite a slow start, the Crusaders found a way to hold UND to a tighter hockey game while attempting to minimize the penalties.
“I thought we got better as the game went along,” Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl said. “I think we did a little too much standing around and looking early and then unfortunately took a couple penalties that you can’t do against those guys.
“Sometimes, you’re going to get them when you’re being physical, but when you’re taking stick penalties, it has to do with their speed, but I thought that set us back a little bit.”
After a hooking penalty by Jake Youso late in the second, UND found itself on the power play yet again and capitalized on the opportunity. Kristo fired a shot into an empty Holy Cross net at 17:58 as Ginn couldn’t make it back in front from blocking a previous shot.
While North Dakota dominated the start of the game and further boosted the notion of their success with 41 total shots on goal, it was Holy Cross that showed a spark late in the third period and finished with 10 shots on the net.
Clarke Saunders (13 saves) stood up after making an initial save to reveal the puck in between his pads for an easy snipe by Mike McNamara at 13:48.
Holy Cross added another goal at 18:43 as Adam Schmidt came from behind the net and sent a quick pass in front of the crease to Castan Sommer, who scored the team’s second goal.
“I thought they played a really sound final 40 minutes,” Hakstol said. “Maybe whether or not there’s a spark with the two late goals, I don;t know. We don’t control what they do. We have to control what we do coming out of the locker room.”
Both teams saw a different hockey game emerge as the clock winded down and the level of competition intensified.
“I think we got used to just playing,” Pearl said. “We talked about it between the first and the second and then the second and the third not to get caught up in where we’re playing or who we’re playing, just play. We’re a lot better than we were – especially in those first 10 minutes.”