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

UND men's hockey team caps productive weekend with tie

GRAND FORKS – The University of North Dakota men’s hockey team wasn’t happy about giving the University of Vermont 17 power plays during the weekend. And it really wasn’t happy about giving up a two-goal lead and tying the Catamounts 2-2 on Saturday night.

But big picture? UND head coach Dave Hakstol saw a lot more to be excited about than discouraged about with his young team.

UND finished its first

regular-season weekend of the year with a win and a tie against Vermont, getting strong contributions from throughout the lineup. The rookies all got a weekend under their belts, and for the most part, UND was able to control play against a Hockey East opponent.

“I like the overall presence as a team early in the year,” Hakstol said. “I thought we had pretty good cohesion. I like what I see on the bench. I think we have quite a few guys who are able to recognize situations and have the poise to go out there and play the next shift in that situation.”

Rocco Grimaldi, who scored once Saturday and had 10 shots on goal, agreed with Hakstol’s take.

“I thought we worked hard, and I thought we did a good job,” Grimaldi said. “It’s tough early in the year. Sometimes guys are still trying to figure out their role and find their way on the team. But I thought the young guys, the freshmen, did a great job.”

UND probably would have been a bit happier late Saturday if they were able to finish off a sweep of the Catamounts in front of a sellout crowd of 11,803. The team did hold a 2-0 lead after the first period.

Grimaldi finished off a feed from Jordan Schmaltz at 10 minutes, 58 seconds for the first goal of the game. Drake Caggiula set that play up with a nifty play at the blue line to keep the puck in the zone.

Late in the first, Caggiula scored his second of the year, streaking up the right wing on his backhand and roofing a shot on the short side.

“I thought we got off to a pretty good start,” Grimaldi said. “We started building a lead. I think we kind of fell apart for a small stretch in the second period and gave the game right back to them, put the momentum back in their hands.”

UND had chances to go up 3-0, but two Brendan O’Donnell shots went off the post, and Vermont was able to answer. The Catamounts got an even-strength goal at 3:34 from Robert Polesello and a shorthanded goal at 17:14 by Chris McCarthy to even it.

“They had a real good push coming out in the second period. I thought that was the best hockey they played all weekend,” Hakstol said of Vermont. “Everyone’s focus in the second period is on what happened (with the goals), but at 2-0, we hit a couple of crossbars squarely and we couldn’t stretch it to a 3-0 lead. I liked the way we played through the last 25 minutes. We had our opportunities, but their goaltender made some saves, and we couldn’t put one away.”

One of the big negatives on the weekend was allowing Vermont to have 17 power plays. One of the big positives was that UND killed 16 of those 17, including all six in the series finale.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, UND, Grimaldi (Schmaltz, Caggiula) 10:58. 2, UND, Caggiula (Tambellini) 19:17.

SECOND PERIOD: 3, V, Polesello (Turk) 3:34. 4, V, McCarthy (Bruneteau, Hamilton) 17:14 (sh).

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.

OVERTIME: No scoring.

SAVES: UND, Gothberg 4-7-10-4–25. V, Santaguida 12-11-6-2–31.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald