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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published March 09 2013

UND men's hockey misses out on chance for share of WCHA title with loss to Mavericks

MANKATO, Minn. – The University of North Dakota won’t be grabbing one last MacNaughton Cup for the road.

Minnesota State-Mankato forward Brett Knowles scored with 1:38 left in overtime to spoil UND’s hopes at grabbing the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s championship trophy in its final year before leaving for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

The goal lifted the Mavericks to a 2-1 victory in front of 5,088 fans in Verizon Wireless Center.

Had UND won the game – and it had plenty of chances in the overtime session – it would have shared the conference title with St. Cloud State and Minnesota.

“It stings to lose it in overtime when a different result in overtime would have gave us the opportunity to have a piece of the MacNaughton Cup,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol, whose team found out after regulation that St. Cloud State had lost to give UND that chance.

“That being said, it’s done. We’ve got playoffs.”

UND will enter the WCHA playoffs with the No. 3 seed and will host Michigan Tech in the first round beginning Friday in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Even if UND had won the game, the team would have had the third seed in league play because it lost tiebreakers to the Huskies and Gophers.

But that didn’t come into play.

Jean-Paul Lafontaine made a nice backdoor feed to Knowles, who tapped home the winner. The Mavericks piled up in the corner to celebrate the victory, which clinched home ice for the playoffs for their team.

UND scored a goal in the opening 63 seconds on Saturday night, but couldn’t get anything else past rookie standout Stephon Williams, who finished with 30 saves. The biggest stops came against UND freshman Rocco Grimaldi in the extra session. He had a chance on a two-on-one and another as he cut across the slot.

“From the start of the game, I had a lot of opportunities,” said Grimaldi, who had a game-high eight shots on goal. “In the first period, I had a couple of chances on the breakaway and the backdoor chance. It just wasn’t going in for me, so I’m pretty upset with myself right now. I feel that if I would have buried at least one of those, we wouldn’t have even had to go into overtime. But that happens. I’m going to try to forget about this one and move on.”

The goal by Knowles helped Minnesota State shake its terrible fortunes against UND in recent years. It marked only the second time that the Mavericks have topped UND in this building in the last decade and snapped a 10-game losing streak against UND, which fell to 19-10-7

overall and finished league play at 14-7-7.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, Kristo (O’Donnell, Knight), 1:03.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, MS, Margonari (Gaede, Elbrecht), 19:35.

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.

OVERTIME: 3, MS, Knowles (Lafontaine, Hayes), 3:22.

SAVES: UND, Gothberg 7-13-15-0–35. MS, Williams 14-6-7-3–30.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald