GRAND FORKS, N.D. — After giving up four power-play goals in the first two periods Friday night, North Dakota’s “back to the basics” approach Saturday was revealed early.
North Dakota (5-7-2, 3-5-0 NCHC) killed off all three of St. Lawrence’s power-play opportunities in the opening frame en route to a 3-2 victory over the Saints (8-6-2, 2-2-2 ECAC) in front of an announced crowd of 10,532 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Though salvaging a split after a frustrating 5-2 loss Friday, the UND locker room after the game was focused on not treading too heavily on its rebound.
“I don’t feel relief,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “We were real disappointed last night as a group. It’s been a challenging 24 hours, so it’s nice to have a positive outcome at the end of those 24 hours, but we’re looking forward. We’ve got a lot of work to do — we know that.”
St. Lawrence’s three chances on the power play limited the Saints’ scoring opportunities as they came into the weekend fourth in the nation in converting the power play.
“We weren’t executing what we wanted to do,” said St Lawrence coach Greg Carvel. “It’s unfortunate because we do rely on that to provide offense for us, so we didn’t get that tonight.”
Instead, SLU’s first opportunity was taken by North Dakota — despite losing Adam Tambellini on a five-minute major and game misconduct at 4:59 of the first period — as Rocco Grimaldi raced across the center line toward the goal after stealing the puck. His shot hit the back of the net past Matt Weininger (21 saves) and put UND ahead first with the shorthanded goal.
St. Lawrence didn’t respond until the middle of the second period when Sean McGovern won the faceoff and got the puck up to Justin Baker, whose feed to Gunner Hughes for an easy snipe in past Zane Gothberg (25 saves) set the teams even.
“They started off strong in the second period and I thought the key to our success was the end of the second period [and] regaining momentum going back into the third,” UND forward Stephane Pattyn said. “We knew they were going to come out hungry in the third, but I thought we held our own and played pretty well.”
North Dakota broke the tie when Conner Gaarder fired a shot from the circle at 18:55 that would lead to his second goal of the weekend and UND’s second of the night after a review by officials.
Just 31 seconds later, Pattyn increased the margin to two goals with a shot in the net past Weninger — sending the Saints into the third period down 3-1.
“The room was down, but I think we did a good job resetting,” Carvel said. “I thought in the third period, we were really good. We dominated play and their goalie made a couple big saves. Some nights you just can’t find a way to get in the back of the net.”
Just one more puck set off the goal horn as Greg Carey tallied a goal at 5:37 of the third.
The series wasn’t in favor of either team as a whole, but what North Dakota was dealt this weekend proved a chance to grow.
“We had some great conversations,” Pattyn said. “We definitely grew up as a team last night and I think today helped that, too.”
It wasn’t only UND that found success within the struggle.
“It’s fun for us to come out here and test ourselves against teams that we don’t see very often and UND is a very strong team,” Carvel said. “They’re a little off right now, but still tough to come out here and I thought our team showed very well. I thought we looked like a good hockey team.
“We competed and it was a good split — two teams that played hard, good physical hockey and I’m real proud of the way we showed ourselves.”