GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Josh Archibald watched the opening faceoff from the penalty box.
That was before UNO coach Dean Blais was ejected before the first period ended, and both teams scored in their own nets in the second.
Archibald went on to notch a hat trick in a bizarre battle for redemption in a 6-3 decision that saw the Mavericks (11-13-2, 8-6-2 NCHC) take down North Dakota (14-9-3, 9-7-0 NCHC) with five unanswered goals Saturday night in front of 11,930 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Before the puck was dropped, Archibald and Stephane Pattyn were handed unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalties — a sign of the intensity to come.
“That’s something we always want to do is come out with an edge,” Archibald said. “I guess there was a little stick work here and there and we just got talking and the referee didn’t like that, so he threw us both in the box.”
Between goals from Tanner Lane and Derek Rodwell to tie it in the first period, Blais was ejected from the game after an Omaha bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct and a game misconduct.
But that only added fuel to the fire for the Mavericks.
“It definitely did,” Archibald said. “If he’s going to do that stuff for us, we’re going to battle for him any day.”
North Dakota took control of the battle during the first 30 minutes of the game
Just 43 seconds into the middle frame, Drake Caggiula added to North Dakota’s advantage after tipping Nick Mattson’s shot into the net for a 2-1 lead.
It was minutes later though, that Omaha saw its defensive efforts backfire as Jordan Schmaltz had the puck in the slot, but UNO’s Brian O’Rourke barreled in and took down Kirk Thompson (23 saves) to send the puck to the back of the net and put North Dakota up by two.
Dominic Zombo redeemed Omaha at 5:55 of the second with a backhand shot after Clarke Saunders (29 saves) dropped a rebound.
But UNO wasn’t finished yet. Josh Archibald rushed toward Saunders on a power play and banked the puck off Dillon Simpson’s skate at 7:48 of the second to tie the game at three and begin his three-goal game.
“We didn’t respond,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “We built the two-goal lead. We gave up a tough goal and the tying goal in a bounce off a shin pad, and that’s where our team has a history of responding. Tonight, we didn’t respond in the right way.
The only response was another three goals from Omaha — North Dakota not answering to any of the five.
Archibald tallied another goal before the second period buzzer and began the third with a rush down the ice and a shot that slipped past Saunders.
Zahn Raubenheimer made it six with his top of the slot shot at 11:35 of the third.
“Archibald is a special player,” UNO assistant coach Troy Jutting said. “There’s no question about it. I think he was a little disappointed with his effort last night and I think he came to the rink tonight with something to prove and obviously did.”
Despite North Dakota’s initial boost of momentum, Omaha proved it could handle it.
“It was a great win for our kids,” Jutting said. “I think it shows the character of the kids to go out — especially to start that second period and North Dakota getting those two and getting the building rolling a little bit — and for them to settle themselves down and play the way they did. I’m really proud of the kids.”
UND had six power-play opportunities, but was unable to capitalize on any of them — and is only 3-for-38 in its past nine games.
With no results during a man-advantage, Hakstol also said the penalty action in the first period didn’t have much affect on the team.
“I don’t think it did,” Hakstol said. “We weren’t sharp on our power-play opportunities and winning puck battles. Those power-play opportunities were similar to the early ones on Friday night, where we didn’t come up with pucks. I don’t think it affected our team at all.”
Battling misfortune in the first period turned into success in the end for the Mavericks.
“I think it was a wild one,” Archibald said. “We battled some adversity at the start of the game with Blais getting kicked out of the game, but we battled back and good things happen when you battle back. We were lucky to come out on top tonight.