GOTW: No. 2 North Dakota wins round one of physical, penalty-filled battle against No. 9 Omaha, 6-2

In a penalty-filled battle between two of the nation’s top teams, North Dakota defeated Omaha, 6-2, in the first of six games these clubs will play in the coming weeks (Photo: Bonnie Ryan/Omaha Athletics)

The final score wasn’t indicative of the game, but round one of a scheduled six-round heavyweight battle between No. 2 North Dakota and No. 9 Omaha went to the Fighting Hawks, who scored the game’s final five goals to win, 6-2.

Friday was the first of six games that these two teams will play over the closing week’s of the NCHC regular-season.

North Dakota got offense up and down the lineup as six different players recorded goals. On the back end, Adam Scheel was once again phenomenal in net making 30 saves, none bigger than a save by Taylor Ward as the Fighting Hawks killed a major power play while clinging to a two-goal lead late.

“Adam Scheel was outstanding in net tonight,” said North Dakota coach Brad Berry. “He had to make some big saves at critical points in the game.

“He did a good job of tracking pucks. He’s concentrating on pucks coming at him from the strong side, but he’s doing a great job of getting over [to the backdoor], being focused and quick. He’s a big reason we won tonight.”

The game between two of the top teams in the NCHC was physical from the moment the opening puck was dropped. Just 2:19 into the game, North Dakota’s Brendan Budy was given a five-minute major for charging, the first of two majors whistled against the Fighting Hawks. All told, the two teams combined for 21 penalties and 56 minutes.

“There’s a lot of things that go into it,” said Berry when asked about the physical play featured on Friday. “It almost feels like a playoff series and you want to get a fast start. The other thing is you want to capture the Penrose Cup. You don’t want to fall behind in the standing.”

After Cooper Moore got North Dakota on the board just 1:25 in, Omaha responded scoring on their first major power play as Chayse Primeau, the Mavericks top point getter, evened the score at 2:52.

Martin Sundberg gave Omaha the lead at 2-1 at 2:06 of the second before Shane Pinto and Mark Senden returned the advantage to the Fighting Hawks before the end of the second.

Grant Mismash scored an important insurance tally at 4:29 of the third before Jasper Weatherby scored into an empty net and Judd Caufield tallied seconds later off the ensuing faceoff for the 6-2 final.

Knowing that these two teams will battle five more times in short order, both coaches understand the the physical battle that was waged at Baxter Arena on Friday won’t change too much in the upcoming tilts.

“I don’t know if it’s any different than playing Duluth or Denver or any team in our league,” said Berry. “It’s so competitive. It’s going to get exponentially more intense. If there’s anything we can do, it’s be more disciplined.”


Bemidji State 4, No. 3 Minnesota State 1

One of the nation’s hottest teams kept rolling as Bemidji State, coming off three straight wins against Bowling Green, handed No. 3 Minnesota State its first loss since December 6. The Mavericks were previously unbeaten in nine games (8-0-1).

The host Beavers mustered just 10 shots on goal, but made the most of those opportunities. Aaron Miller scored early in the game to give Bemidji State the 1-0 lead. After Jack Livingstone knotted the game, Brad Johnson and Owen Sillinger struck in the middle frame.

Elias Rosen’s empty net tally with 1:18 remaining closed the offense. Bemidji State goaltender Zach Driscoll made 35 saves to earn the victory.

The Beavers improves the 5-3-2 against nationally-ranked opponents.

No. 8 Bowling Green 6, No. 18 Michigan Tech 3

Connor Ford scored twice for No. 8 Bowling Green in the third period to break open a tight battle with No. 18 Michigan Tech, skating to a 6-3 victory. The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Falcons.

Bowling Green scored three time in the first and held a 4-1 lead late in the third. But Thenton Bliss scored twice for the Huskies, once in late in the second and again at 1:29 of the third to close the Falcons lead to 1.

That’s when Ford took over. He scored his first goal on the power play at 3:59 of the third, just 2:30 after Michigan Tech closed the gap. Then Ford’s second goal at 17:51 of the third into the empty net sealed the victory.