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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service , Published January 17 2014

UND, Bemidji State skate to 1-1 men's hockey tie

BEMIDJI, Minn. – When asked what the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team could do better in tonight’s series finale, Rocco Grimaldi had to pause and think.

The UND sophomore forward eventually came up with an answer, but the truth is that UND did just about everything it could in a 1-1 tie against Bemidji State at the Sanford Center on Friday night.

Final shots on goal: 43-15 UND.

Final shots attempted: 87-32 UND.

Time of possession: That was lopsided, too.

Bemidji State goaltender Andrew Walsh single-handedly led the Beavers to a tie in front of 4,512, consistently shutting down UND’s Grade A opportunities, which were plentiful in each period.

The only guy to beat Walsh was Grimaldi, who rifled a one-timer in the top corner of the net at 6 minutes, 42 seconds of the second period. But Cory Ward scored a goal on a rush with 1:45 left in the middle frame to allow the Beavers to grab their seventh tie of the year.

UND, meanwhile, was able to walk out of the Sanford Center with an eight-game unbeaten streak intact – the second-longest active streak in the country. It will enter tonight’s series finale at 11-7-3.

“You can always do a little more,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “We played well. We played hard for 60 minutes. We’ve got to, somewhere along the way, find a way to make one more play in a game like tonight.

“We have to be a little better. We have to have a lot of the same, but a little bit better. We’re playing for a series. That’s what’s left on the table for us. We have to play a little bit better hockey game.”

UND outshot the Beavers (7-11-7) 16-4 in the first period, 8-6 in the second period, 14-4 in the third period and 5-1 in overtime.

There were several chances in the third to get the go-ahead goal. On one, Grimaldi dangled through two Bemidji State players and attempted a backhand high from in tight. Grimaldi said he threw the shot into Walsh’s pad. After that, UND defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, the most dominant player on the ice, hit the post on a shot through traffic.

“I thought we had some good chances,” Schmaltz said. “Obviously, we got 43 pucks to the net. We just couldn’t find one to put it home. We can take the positives out of it, I guess.”

When asked if the team could do anything more, Schmaltz added: “It’s a result-driven sport. So, sometimes, you’ve got to find a way to put one in. We didn’t do that tonight. Hopefully, we can tomorrow.”

Schmaltz, who has seven points in the last seven games, took the contest over in the third, consistently putting pressure on the Bemidji State defenders by jumping up in the rush, or shooting from the point with traffic. He also held a number of pucks in the zone to maintain puck possession.

“Obviously, he’s a great player,” Grimaldi said of Schmaltz. “He’s very slick at the blue line. He can make some dipsy-doodles and keep the puck in. For most guys, it would be pretty dangerous. But for him, it just seems like second knowledge. He’s a good player with great vision.”

UND just wants a few more plays tonight.

“I thought we worked hard – put 40-some shots on goal,” Grimaldi said. “Every line was contributing and getting pucks to the net. We didn’t have a lot of power plays, so it was tough to generate momentum that way. But overall, our team did a good job. Their goalie played unbelievable. He had some good saves on me and some other guys. Hopefully, we’ll get a win tomorrow.”

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, UND, Grimaldi (Caggiula, Johnson), 6:42. 2, B, Ward (Harms), 18:15.

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.

SAVES: UND, Gothberg 4-5-4-1—14. B, Walsh 16-7-14-5—42.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald