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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co. , Published December 07 2012

Denver, UND skate to men's hockey tie

GRAND FORKS – Denver goaltender Juho Olkinuora may have been outstanding Friday night in Ralph Engelstad Arena, but Rocco Grimaldi didn’t care.

All he could think about after the University of North Dakota’s 2-2 men’s hockey tie with the Pioneers was his golden chance in the slot late in the third period, where he had Olkinuora (31 saves) on the ground and the top half of the net wide open.

“I have to put that in the empty net,” Grimaldi said. “I don’t know how I missed the net. I’ve got to bear down. I basically lost the game. (Olkinuora) won it and I lost it for our team.”

Technically, nobody won or lost the series opener between two teams who have played for each of the last two Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff championships.

Chris Knowlton and Scott Mayfield scored goals for the No. 6 Pioneers, while Carter Rowney and Corban Knight had answers for No. 9 UND, which moved to 7-5-3 overall and 4-2-3 in league play. Denver’s winless streak extended to five games (0-3-2) after its 9-1 start.

The teams traded goals in the opening two periods, and with Denver only dressing 10 forwards, UND became more and more dominant as the night went along.

UND outshot the Pioneers 11-6 in the third period and 5-0 in overtime. Shots on goal finished 33-20 UND. Shot attempts were 74-42 UND. Denver didn’t attempt a single shot below the hash marks in the third period or overtime.

“I liked the last 45 minutes,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “I thought we got on track and played our game. I didn’t think we were what we wanted to be coming out of the game at the drop of the puck.”

The chances UND will remember were on the sticks of Grimaldi and Mark MacMillan. A few minutes after Grimaldi missed the net high on his chance, Danny Kristo made a brilliant backdoor feed for MacMillan, who was robbed by Olkinuora sliding from right to left with 5:54 to go.

MacMillan slowly skated off the ice with his head in his hands, while the crowd buzzed about the save by the sophomore from Finland, who joined the team as a walk-on late last summer after then-starter Sam Brittain underwent surgery.

“He had a really good night,” Grimaldi said. “He had some good glove saves on shots I thought were going in.”

UND had the only scoring chances of overtime, the best coming off of the stick of Knight, who extended his point streak to 10 games with his second-period tally.

“We’re not happy at all with our start,” Knight said. “Our first period was very below average. That cost us the extra point. You’ve got to play 60 or 65 minutes to get two points, and we didn’t do that tonight. That’s why we only got one point.”

The teams traded goals in the first period, both of which were a bit fluky. Knowlton scored on a rebound of his own shot, putting one off of the stick of a UND defenseman and over the shoulder of Clarke Saunders (18 saves). UND evened it when Rowney partially fanned on a shot from the slot, but had enough to get it by Olkinuora.

In the second period, the teams traded power-play goals – Mayfield scoring on a blast from the point and Knight finding a rebound of a Dillon Simpson shot.

After that, it was all UND with nothing to show for it.

“(Olkinuora) definitely had a strong game,” Knight said. “It’s always tough when you go against a hot goalie like that. He played well. The onus goes on us, too. We have to bear down on our chances a little more and put pucks where he can’t get them. Hopefully, we can fix that up for tomorrow.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, D, Knowlton (Shore, Mermis) 7:21.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, UND, Rowney (Caggiula, Schmaltz) 1:32. 3, D, Mayfield (Loney, Mermis) 7:43 (pp). 4, UND, Knight (Simpson, Mattson) 10:54 (pp).

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.

SAVES: D, Olkinoura 8-7-11-5–31. UND, Saunders 7-5-6-0–18.


Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald