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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service , Published January 12 2013

Kristo comes up big in UND men's hockey win

GRAND FORKS – The University of North Dakota men’s hockey team shuffled its top line for the third time in three games Saturday night.

But does it really matter who plays with Danny Kristo these days?

Kristo set up Mitch MacMillan and Dan “Jim” Senkbeil for their first career UND goals, scored two goals himself and was a post away from a hat trick during a 5-3 victory over Colorado College in the series finale at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Kristo now has a goal in seven straight games and has 16 points in that stretch. His center, Corban Knight, is on a 17-game point streak. And whoever winds up on left wing on that line seems to be the beneficiary of the two senior standouts.

“He had two and two, but the offensive side of his game isn’t what stands out,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said.

“He played a real, solid two-way game for us tonight. He led by example.”

MacMillan, a St. Cloud State transfer, was moved to the top line for this game and ended up with his first two points in a UND uniform, including a snipe off of a feed by Kristo at 13:22 of the second period – a goal that gave UND its first lead of the weekend.

After Rylan Schwartz tied the game early in the third on a power-play goal, Kristo helped Senkbeil get his first college goal, the game-winner. Because of a shift change, the fourth-liner ended up on the ice with Kristo, who picked up a loose puck in the circle after Jordan Schmaltz rang one off the post.

Kristo tried to snap a shot under the glove of Colorado College goalie Josh Thorimbert. The netminder got a piece of the puck, but it still rolled behind him in the crease. Senkbeil, who earned the nickname ‘Jim’ last year because a couple of his teammates didn’t know who he was when he showed up on campus, crashed the crease and scored.

“He’s not always the prettiest guy out there,” Kristo said of Senkbeil, “but I think everyone’s pretty excited for him. Huge goal for our team.”

Senkbeil said he couldn’t remember his last goal, but it came as a defenseman while he was playing juniors.

“I was pretty excited,” he said. “It’s been a while. My eyes kind of lit up when the puck was in the crease. I just tried to pound it home.”

UND goaltender Zane Gothberg, starting his first game since Thanksgiving weekend, made sure that Senkbeil’s goal stood as the game winner. Gothberg stopped 10 shots in the final frame and 21 for the game as UND improved to 13-6-3 overall and 8-3-3 in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play.

It wasn’t a great start for UND.

Colorado College (9-13-2, 6-9-1) outshot UND 12-4 in the opening frame and built a 2-1 lead. But UND dominated the second period, outshooting the Tigers 15-1 and grabbing a 3-2 lead on goals by Gleason and MacMillan.

“In the second period, it was nothing major in terms of a major change,” Hakstol said. “It was just one good shift after the next. Maybe some chemistry was part of that. I think it was maybe more guys’ determination.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, CC, Winkler (Hanson, Skalbeck), 3:13. 2, UND, Kristo (MacMillan, Forbort), 5:17. 3, CC, Winkler (Rapuzzi, Schwartz), 13:11, (pp).

SECOND PERIOD: 4, UND, Gleason (Knight, Simpson), 8:02, (pp). 5, UND, MacMillan (Kristo), 13:22.

THIRD PERIOD: 6, CC, Schwartz (McDermott, Boivin), 5:13, (pp). 7, UND, Senkbeil (Kristo, Schmaltz), 7:45. 8, UND, Kristo (Mattson, Gothberg), 18:54.

SAVES: CC, Thorimbert 3-13-10 26. UND, Gothberg 10-1-10 21.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald