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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service , Published January 05 2013

UND edges Holy Cross for men's hockey win

GRAND FORKS – For all the ugly sights in Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday night – the slow start, the turnovers and the battles in the corners to find any sort of space in a tight-checking game – it was all replaced by one welcome sight at the end.

Twenty players stood around center ice in Ralph Engelstad Arena and gave their first stick salute of the season after the University of North Dakota beat Holy Cross 3-2 to finish off a nonconference series sweep.

It marked the first home sweep of the season for UND, which extended its winning streak to five games and its unbeaten streak to seven.

It didn’t come easy.

UND trailed 2-0 early and was down by a goal in the third period when Michael Parks and Danny Kristo scored back-to-back power-play goals to send Holy Cross back to Massachusetts without a victory on this trip to Grand Forks.

Connor Gaarder also scored, snapping a 15-game goal drought, while senior Corban Knight extended his point streak to 15 games with a pair of assists. Knight went 21-3 in the faceoff circle – winning every one of them as UND protected a one-goal lead at the end.

“There are some things we’d like to do differently tonight – most importantly, our start,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol, whose team improved to 12-5-3 overall. “But we had a goal coming into this weekend to finish off our nonconference season with two wins and we did that, so that’s a great positive.”

UND went 5-3 in nonconference play this season and will now turn to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association stretch run. Colorado College comes to Ralph Engelstad Arena next weekend.

There will be some more lineup shuffling with Rocco Grimaldi returning to the lineup from the World Junior Championships, but UND hopes it can keep its current run going. UND has scored 24 goals in the last five games – all wins.

After allowing three goals in the opening frame a night earlier, Holy Cross (10-6-2) pushed back in the series finale. The Crusaders held a 2-0 lead late in the first period and did a good job bottling up UND’s potent offensive attack.

“I think last night we got caught up in everything – where we were playing, who we were playing,” Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl said. “Tonight, we just played. That’s a large difference.

Brandon Nunn and Rob Linsmayer scored goals at 3:23 and 13:05 of the first period to put the Crusaders in front. Gaarder cut the Holy Cross lead to 2-1 with a minute to go in the first, converting a snap shot from the slot with traffic screening goalie Matt Ginn.

UND outshot Holy Cross 13-2 in the second period, but couldn’t get anything to go. Then, it took advantage of two power plays in the third.

Parks got good position on top of the crease and had two attempts to knock a Knight pass in the net. Ginn slid out of position on the second attempt and Parks buried it easily for his second goal in as many games.

Kristo scored the winner on the power play, walking the puck from the top of the left circle to the middle of the ice and firing it high.

“They were kind of cheating up on the power play,” Kristo said. “I was going to Knighter a lot and he was making plays to the net. I think after three or four times, they backed off and gave me a little space to shoot. Parksy had a good screen. I just walked in and scored to the right.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, HC, Nunn (Zych, Nagy) 3:23. 2, HC, Linsmayer (Fletcher, Nunn) 13:05. 3, UND, Gaarder (Mattson) 19:00.

SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.

THIRD PERIOD: 4, UND, Parks (Knight, Kristo) 4:15. 5, UND, Kristo (Knight, Gleason) 14:37 (pp).

SAVES: HC, Ginn 9-13-12–34. UND, Saunders 5-2-10–17.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald