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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published February 02 2013

UND darts past Wisconsin

GRAND FORK – All is back to normal in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s best home team of the last two years convincingly put an end to a five-game winless streak – the longest of University of North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol’s nine-year tenure – with a 4-1 win over the University of Wisconsin on Saturday night.

The fans were lively throughout, even throwing a dead badger on the ice at one point as UND became the first WCHA team to beat Wisconsin since Nov. 24, ending the school’s

11-game WCHA unbeaten streak.

For UND, it was the first victory in 21 days – a stretch of six games that involved three ties and two losses.

“It’s nice to get in the winning column, but it’s nice to earn the win,” Hakstol said. “That’s the most important part. It’s been three weeks since we last won a hockey game, I think. I know it’s been a long time. Most importantly, it’s nice to earn a good win against a good hockey team.”

Michael Parks scored twice, while Mark MacMillan and Joe Gleason had power-play tallies for UND, which improved to 14-8-6 overall and 9-5-6 in league play. UND joined Denver and Minnesota in a three-way tie for third place.

Rocco Grimaldi and Carter Rowney each added two assists as UND shuffled its line combinations and suddenly found scoring from sources other than Grimaldi, Danny Kristo and Corban Knight.

“I think it’s a relief,” Parks said. “It’s a relief to get one here at home. It’s been a while. We’re more worried about everyone bringing the effort like we have the last three games. If we do that every game, every guy … I think we’re going to start winning a lot more games.”

For the first time in his career, Wisconsin sophomore Landon Peterson started both games of a weekend series, but he was greeted rudely by UND.

MacMillan tipped home a Grimaldi point shot just 45 seconds into the game for a power-play goal and Gleason put away a backdoor feed from Knight at 13:24 to stake UND to a 2-0 lead. That marked the first time that Wisconsin had trailed by more than a goal since Thanksgiving weekend.

“I thought the first power-play goal was key,” Hakstol said. “The second one was nice to get as well. Bigger than that for me was the penalty kill we had back-to-back with our first power-play goal.”

UND killed all eight Badgers power plays on the weekend, sending Wisconsin’s power play to 1-for-39 on the road this season.

In the second period, UND extended the lead on a pair of goals by Parks.

At 8:17, Rowney found Parks cutting toward the net and connected with him. Parks waited for Peterson to commit, then moved the puck to his backhand and scored to make it 3-0. About eight minutes later, Parks scored on a wraparound, finishing off the first two-goal game of his career.

Zane Gothberg, who played both games in net for UND, stopped 21 of 22 shots on Saturday and 50 of 52 for the weekend. In his last four starts, Gothberg has a 2.18 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.

Defensively, UND has allowed just two even-strength goals in the last 192:25.

“I would give us, defensively, a B-plus,” Hakstol said. “I thought we were pretty responsible. (Friday) night, we created some of our own problems on two or three occasions. In a tight game like that, two or three is a big deal. I thought we did little things well. We blocked shots well, which is something we’ve been working to be better at. I liked that area of our game. I liked the overall commitment to the defensively side.”

UND will go to Nebraska-Omaha next weekend to play a Friday night game, which is televised on NBC Sports Network and a Saturday afternoon game outdoors at T.D. Ameritrade Field, the site of the College World Series.

UND won’t have to take a long winless streak on the trip, though.

“After a five-game winless streak, everyone kept pushing throughout,” Rowney said. “Everyone knew we had it in the dressing room to do it.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, UND, MacMillan (Grimaldi, Schmaltz), :45, (pp). 2, UND, Gleason (Knight, Kristo), 13:24, (pp).

SECOND PERIOD: 3, UND, Parks (Rowney, Simpson), 8:17. 4, UND, Parks (Rowney, Grimaldi), 16:18.

THIRD PERIOD: 5, W, Zengerle (LaBate, Kerdiles), 13:30.

SAVES: W, Peterson 11-8-6–25. UND, Gothberg 4-11-6–21

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald