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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published October 18 2013

UND tops No. 1 Miami in first-ever NCHC game

OXFORD, Ohio – The University of North Dakota’s young team isn’t wasting any time growing up.

In its first road game of the season, the No. 6-ranked UND men’s hockey team upset the No. 1 team in the country, Miami University, in front of a sold-out homecoming crowd Friday at Steve Cady Arena.

Junior Brendan O’Donnell scored twice and had an assist, while classmates Michael Parks and Nick Mattson each tacked on goals to help UND pull off a 4-2 victory in the first-ever National Collegiate Hockey Conference game.

“We knew we’d be in tough, coming into this building, in this atmosphere, against that level of a team,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “But I knew we’d come in and play hard.”

UND did just that, building a 3-0 lead and holding off a late charge from a Miami team that had dropped just three of its past 29 games in Oxford. The crowd of 3,642 was silent as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

“We want to establish ourselves as a great team in this league right away,” Mattson said. “Obviously, that will be determined over the course of the year, but it started tonight.”

With the regulation win, UND earned three league points and moved to 2-0-1 overall. Miami, which blew out Ohio State in back-to-back games last weekend, dropped to 2-1.

The highlights for UND were aplenty.

On the offensive end, the junior line of O’Donnell, Parks and Mark MacMillan led the way. O’Donnell had two goals – the same number he scored all of last season. Parks also had two points.

On the defensive end, UND held Miami stars Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber without a point. Barber was the nation’s leading scorer coming into the game.

Goaltender Zane Gothberg was stellar in stopping 35 of 37 shots, and his defensemen cleared out almost every rebound he left.

“Zano stood on his head tonight,” freshman Luke Johnson said.

Earning one win in Steve Cady Arena is rare in itself. UND will try to do something even more difficult in tonight’s series finale– get a sweep in Oxford. In the last seven seasons, only one team has done that – Lake Superior State in October of 2011.

“I think we’re going to respond well, Mattson said. “It’s easier said than done, but I’m confident in this group. We didn’t come out here for (three) points.”

The depth that UND’s coaching staff desired at the start of the season is starting to show. While the Rocco Grimaldi, Drake Caggiula and Adam Tambellini line dominated Week 1 against Vermont, that trio was held without a point against the RedHawks. Instead, it was the other lines.

Hakstol had such confidence in the fourth line of Stephane Pattyn, Colten St. Clair and Connor Gaarder that he didn’t avoid matching them up against Miami’s prolific top line.

“We have confidence in all our lines,” Hakstol said. “All of our lines are going to have their ups and downs. That’s the nature of a young team. But we have confidence the guys can go out there and play the right way. I thought all four of our lines played with a good mentality and tried to play the right way.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, UND, Parks (MacMillan, LaDue) 7:55. 2, UND, MacMillan (O’Donnell, Parks) 18:03.

SECOND PERIOD: 3, UND, O’Donnell 1:14. 4, M, Kuraly (Richart, Wideman) 8:25. 5, M, Louis (Caito) 18:18.

THIRD PERIOD: 6, UND, Mattson (Johnson, Stecher) 12:45 (pp).

SAVES: UND, Gothberg 10-13-12–35. M, Williams 11-7-3–21.


Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald