Standings separation

Complete team
Going on the road to play in Duluth against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs is never easy, but North Dakota closed its first half in impressive fashion with a pair of 3-0 wins. Goaltender Cam Johnson made 40 saves in Friday’s win, and another 38 in Saturday’s game, and helped kill nine Bulldogs’ power plays. Johnson is currently second in the country in goaltending, with a .955 save percentage and 1.19 goals-against average.

North Dakota, which had only 22 shots in Friday’s game and 20 in Saturday’s, won an even-strength battle Friday, getting goals from freshmen Brock Boeser, Shane Gerisch, and Joel Janatuinen. On Saturday, it was special teams that won the game for the Fighting Hawks, who got two power-play goals in the first period from Boeser and Tucker Poolman, and a short-handed empty-net goal to seal the win at 18:47 of the third.

North Dakota closed its first half on a 10-1 streak, and is in first place with 27 points, and the sweep increased its lead over third-place Duluth to 13 points.

St. Cloud keeps pace
St. Cloud State, which is currently fifth in the country offensively, rolled to 5-2 and 6-2 wins over No. 11 Denver on the road. After Denver had built a 2-0 lead in the second period on a goal by Troy Terry at 2:31, St. Cloud scored five unanswered goals, with Blake Winiecki getting the rally started with a power-play goal at 13:10. Kalle Kossila tied the game with a goal at 17:23 of the second, and then St. Cloud scored three goals in a 1:33 span of the third period to put the game away, with Joey Benik, Kossila, and David Morley getting the strikes.

Kossila, who according to coach Bob Motzko wasn’t even cleared to play at the start of the year after his surgeries last season, got a hat trick in Saturday’s game, while Benik had two goals. The teams were tied 1-1 entering the second period, and Kossila and Benik scored in the first 1:17 of the second to help get St. Cloud going en route to the 6-2 win.

Goaltender Charlie Lindgren played both games, making 17 saves Friday and 27 Saturday. St. Cloud is second in the NCHC, three points behind North Dakota.

The road isn’t a nice place
Colorado College had a three-game win streak entering last weekend’s road series against Western Michigan, but CC’s struggles on the road continued, as Western Michigan rolled to a sweep, winning 7-3 on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday. CC hasn’t won on the road this year, and last season only won one game on the road.

On Friday, the Broncos got goals from Oliwer Kaski and Michael Rebry in the last 3:25 of the second period to break open a 2-2 tie game, then followed that with three more in the third, with Colt Conrad’s goal at 3:01 effectively ending any hope of a rally for CC.

When Conrad scored at 6:53 of the third period Saturday to put the Broncos up 4-1, it seemed like the game was over, but CC got goals from Trey Bradley and Alex Roos to pull within one. Griffin Molino ended any hopes for CC with an empty-net goal at 19:23.

The irony is that the road isn’t a good place for Western Michigan either; the Broncos are 0-7-1 on the road this season.