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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co. , Published October 19 2012

UND shuts out Alaska-Anchorage in men's hockey season opener

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – The University of North Dakota had no captains, one senior and only three forward lines dressed.

You never would have known watching the game Friday night.

In a surprisingly impressive season opener considering the circumstances, UND dominated Alaska-Anchorage 5-0 in front of a sparse crowd that was largely UND fans in the Carlson Center.

Mark MacMillan scored twice, Bryn Chyzyk, Rocco Grimaldi and Jordan Schmaltz each added one, and junior transfer Clarke Saunders stopped 21 shots for a shutout in his first UND start.

“It was a pretty determined group,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “I thought coming into the week of practice and coming into game day today, we were a pretty determined group and a pretty focused group. That’s the way we played. We played a real hard-working game.”

UND’s captains – Andrew MacWilliam, Danny Kristo, Corban Knight and Carter Rowney – sat in the top row of the arena alongside forward Brendan O’Donnell and defenseman Dan Senkbeil, all of whom were serving suspensions.

Add in an injury to Michael Parks, who was the only player that didn’t make the trip, and UND only had nine available forwards.

But wearing the new green jerseys for the first time, UND was relentless against the Seawolves (1-1-1), forcing them into turnovers most of the night. The veteran defensive corps was outstanding and Saunders was sharp when he needed to be.

“Our mindset is that we have to do everything we usually do as a team,” MacMillan said. “We have to play Fighting Sioux hockey – get pucks in deep and get after it. That’s exactly what we did. Lots of guys stepped up. The results speak for themselves.

“We were missing five of our best players and we found a way to win – not only did we find a way to win, we won playing the right way.”

That means UND will have a chance to win the Brice Alaska Goal Rush when it takes on host Alaska (Fairbanks) in tonight’s game.

In that game, UND will get Knight, MacMillan, MacWilliam and O’Donnell back. Kristo will be out, as will Stephane Pattyn, Andrew Panzarella and Connor Gaarder, who had two assists against the Seawolves.

Despite missing all of the key players in the opener, “nothing changed,” Saunders said.

“We just play our game,” said Saunders, who became the seventh player to post a shutout in his first UND start.

UND got a good start, scoring on its first power play of the season when Schmaltz corralled the puck at the blue line and launched a shot low on Anchorage goalie Chris Kamal, who made the initial save. Chyzyk was standing on top of the crease and pounded home the rebound at 8:21.

About five minutes later, UND extended its lead to 2-0 on a goal by MacMillan. Junior defenseman Derek Forbort made a strong play and drove to the net with the puck. It came off his stick in the slot, but MacMillan picked it up, moved it to his backhand, fought off a check and flipped it over Kamal at 13:10.

UND blew the game open in a second period in which it outshot Anchorage 16-7.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, UND, Chyzyk (Schmaltz), 8:21, (pp). 2, UND, MacMillan (Forbort, Chyzyk), 13:10.

SECOND PERIOD: 3, UND, MacMillan (Simpson, Gaarder), 11:31, (pp). 4, UND, Grimaldi (Gaarder), 12:53.

THIRD PERIOD: 5, UND, Schmaltz, 2:27.

SAVES: ND, Saunders 6-7-8 21. AA, 11-14-x 25; Gunderson x-x-3 3.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald