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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published October 11 2013

Grimaldi propels UND to season-opening win

GRAND FORKS – Rocco Grimaldi felt partially to blame for the University of North Dakota’s two-goal deficit midway through Friday night’s game.

“On the third goal, I didn’t get out to my point and block that shot and it ends up in the back of the net,” Grimaldi said. “It wouldn’t have been in the net if I was out there.”

Grimaldi made sure that wouldn’t matter.

The UND sophomore forward scored one goal, added three assists and finished off his second-career four-point night in UND’s

5-3 season-opening victory over the University of Vermont in front of 11,725 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Adam Tambellini, Brendan O’Donnell, Mark MacMillan and Drake Caggiula also scored goals for UND, which battled back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Catamounts in their first-ever trip to Grand Forks.

Zane Gothberg relieved Clarke Saunders in net for UND midway through the second period and shut the door the rest of the way, stopping all 17 shots he faced as UND rallied for victory.

“I thought we created some of our own problems with the penalties early,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol, whose team killed 10 of Vermont’s 11 power plays. “I thought it led to us wasting the first 10 minutes of the first and second periods. But we found a way to battle back and win a game, so that’s a real positive.”

MacMillan said: “It was a bit of a rough start, but it’s a good sign already early in the year coming back from a 3-1 deficit, battling back and finding a way to win. It’s a good start to the season.”

The Catamounts received seven of the first eight power plays of the game and used the man advantage – and a couple of good breaks – to take an early lead.

Vermont’s Nick Bruneteau scored the first goal of the game on a point shot that went off of UND defenseman Gage Ausmus and into the net. After Tambellini notched his first-career goal, the Catamounts got another one when Tom Forgionie picked up the puck along the side of the net and put it past Saunders, who was standing up, searching for the puck behind the net.

The third goal also came on a point shot and it led to Hakstol making a change in net with 14:41 left in the second period.

“Some nights, you make a goaltending change and it’s a goaltending issue,” Hakstol said. “Other times, it’s a team issue. Tonight, it was a team issue. I thought the third goal against was a little bit evidence of that and we needed to get going a little bit.”

The change worked.

Gothberg was strong the rest of the way and the team rallied.

Grimaldi started the rally with a highlight-reel goal. MacMillan, in the right circle, found Grimaldi cutting down the slot. The 5-foot-6 sophomore got the goalie to go down, skated to the side of the net and below the end line before using quick hands to move the puck back into the paint and shoot it past goalie Mike Santaguida.

Just 5:26 later, Luke Johnson hit O’Donnell cutting down the slot to tie the game.

UND took advantage of a short, 10-second five-on-three power play to take the lead early in the third. After a faceoff, Grimaldi got the puck at the bottom of the right circle and found MacMillan on top of the crease. The junior faked to get the goalie down and lifted a shot over his outstretched leg.

UND iced the game late in the third. Vermont was unable to get Santaguida off the ice for an extra attacker because of UND’s frantic forecheck in the Catamount zone. Eventually, Grimaldi stripped a defenseman of the puck and dished it to Caggiula, who snapped home his first of the season.

“I felt as we got through the second half of the second period, we got a little bit of flow to our game,” Hakstol said. “We killed parts of 11 minor penalties tonight. It’s hard to get much flow expending energy there. I thought that was the turnaround, just setting things down after we went down 3-1.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, V, Bruneteau (Shaw, Brady), 2:57. 2, UND, Tambellini (Caggiula, Grimaldi), 3:26. 3, V, Forgione, 7:08.

SECOND PERIOD: 4, V, Hamilton, 5:19. 5, UND, Grimaldi (MacMillan, Mattson), 13:34 (pp). 6, UND, O’Donnell (Johnson), 18:50.

THIRD PERIOD: 7, MacMillan (Grimaldi), 3:09. 8, UND, Caggiula (Grimaldi) 19:52.

SAVES: V, Santaguida 11-9-11-31. UND, Caunders 9-5-0-14, Gothberg 0-5-12-17


Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald