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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co. , Published November 23 2012

UND men's hockey pulls out win at Notre Dame

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Clarke Saunders didn’t hesitate.

“I had it,” the University of North Dakota goaltender said. “Somewhere. Not really sure where. But I had it. Leave it at that.”

Saunders was describing a potential game-tying goal attempt by Notre Dame with less than two minutes remaining in which the referee blew his whistle before an Irish player knocked it in the net.

The Irish protested to no avail, and UND left smiling after a hard-fought, 2-1 road victory in a sold-out Compton Family Ice Arena.

Many of the 5,022 fans in attendance berated officials Mark Wilkins and Keith Sergott – who awarded the Irish a late power play on a questionable interference call – as they left the ice because of the quick whistle near the end of the game.

“Obviously, it’s nice getting those breaks sometimes,” Saunders said. “I’ve been on the opposite side of it my fair share, and I’m sure everyone has. You get some good breaks and you get some bad breaks. Usually, they even out.”

Saunders didn’t need many breaks on Friday, stopping 35 of 36 shots to improve his save percentage to .933 for the season.

Danny Kristo, who grew up in this state, scored a highlight-reel goal on the power play and defenseman Nick Mattson, who played junior hockey in Indianapolis, scored on a blast from the point to help UND improve to 6-2-3 overall and 3-2 in nonconference play.

Corban Knight also added a pair of assists for UND, which will go for its first sweep of the season in today’s series finale (4:05 p.m.).

“I can sum it up by saying it’s a greasy road win,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “They’re a good hockey team, and I thought we did a lot of good things in the first two periods. But they did a good job. They’re good at what they do. They clog a lot of lanes, they create turnovers and they transition.”

“It was definitely a hockey player’s hockey game with the way both teams were competing,” Knight said.

Notre Dame outshot UND 18-6 in the opening frame, but UND came away with the first-period lead thanks to a last-second goal by Mattson.

The UND sophomore defenseman gained the puck at the right point and recognized his forechecker, fellow Minnesotan Nick Larson, didn’t have a stick. Mattson walked the puck to the center of the ice and unleashed a blast through a screen to make it 1-0 with 3.4 seconds left in the frame.

Kristo added to the lead early in the second when he got the puck alone in the left circle on the power play. Kristo skated in on goalie Steven Summerhays, faked a shot, moved it to his backhand and flipped it high in the net for the goal.

“That’s one of those that leaves the whole building saying, ‘Did I just see that?’” Hakstol said. “Great hands. He made no mistake about it. He’s the guy we would want in that situation, one-on-one with the goaltender. Highlight-reel play.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, UND, Mattson (MacWilliam, Knight) 19:57.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, UND, Kristo (Knight, Simpson) 2:49 (pp). 3, ND, Lee (Lucia, Russo) 5:25 (pp).

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.

SAVES: UND, Saunders 18-13-4–35. ND, Summerhays 5-6-4–15.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald