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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published February 08 2014

UNO scores five straight goals to down UND

GRAND FORKS – After Dean Blais was ejected in the first period on Saturday night, he proceeded to one of his favorite hangouts from when he was head coach at the University of North Dakota.

Only on this trip to the Ralph Engelstad Arena Zamboni room, he had much better entertainment than a pinochle game.

Blais watched his Nebraska-Omaha team score five consecutive goals and rally for a 6-3 win over UND in a wild game that left UND in a tie for third place – three points out of first place and one point out of sixth.

The game featured matching minors before the opening puck dropped, an ejection of a coach in the building he helped design, two own goals and a hat trick by Omaha forward Josh Archibald, the son of former UND legend, Jim.

With 2 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first period, Nebraska-Omaha was called for a bench minor and Blais refused to send a player to the box, so referee Andy Thiessen ejected Blais.

Omaha assistant Troy Jutting, the former Minnesota State-Mankato head coach, took control of the bench after that. Jutting said Blais didn’t want to talk to the media following the game.

“Coach is a competitive guy as you guys all know,” Jutting said. “This is an important game. I think the kids feed off of his competitiveness. When they saw how competitive he was tonight, I think they understood the intensity level of the game and the importance of the game.”

Blais watched the rest of the game in the Zamboni room, where he used to enjoy playing cards when he was UND’s head coach.

Right after the ejection, it was all UND.

UND scored three goals in the span of 2:15 at the end of the first and the start of the second to build a 3-1 lead. Derek Rodwell buried a rebound of his own shot at 19:52 of the first, Drake Caggiula tipped a Nick Mattson point shot at :43 of the second period and Jordan Schmaltz was credited with a goal after Omaha’s Nick Seeler put a rebound in his own net at 2:07.

But after that, the Mavericks took over, scoring five straight goals on goaltender Clarke Saunders, who previously had Omaha’s number but was not sharp on this night.

“We were poor defensively,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “In all aspects without the puck tonight, we were poor.”

UND wasn’t sharp on the power play, either.

In the last nine games, UND is 3 for 38 on the power play (7.9 percent). This weekend, UND was scoreless in 10 attempts with the extra man, including 0-for-6 on Saturday.

“We weren’t sharp on our power-play opportunities,” Hakstol said. “Those power-play opportunities were similar to the early ones on Friday night, where we didn’t come up with pucks.”

UND tried a different tactic on its power-play zone entries, but it didn’t seem to help.

“Omaha does a really good job on that,” Hakstol said of preventing zone entry. “We saw that coming in. They did a great job last weekend. They did a good job limiting any in-zone time. We knew we had a challenge in front of us, but we didn’t do the right things.”

UND hadn’t lost a game that it led by two goals – at home or on the road – in more than four years. The last time it happened was January 10, 2010, against a MacNaughton Cup champion Denver team.

The loss also snapped UND’s seven-game home winning streak.

“I think we’ll have some long days at the rink this week,” UND junior forward Stephane Pattyn said. “We’ll do a lot of video to look at things. I think it was just our mentality. We went up by two goals. Typically, in our own arena, that should be (enough to win). Them getting five in a row just isn’t going to sit well with us at all.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, O, Lane (Searfoss, Raubenheimer) 12:24. 2, UND, Rodwell (Gaarder) 19:52.

SECOND PERIOD: 3, UND, Caggiula (Mattson, Parks) :43. 4, UND, Schmaltz (MacMillan, Parks) 2:07. 5, O, Zombo (Archibald, Guentzel) 5:55. 6, O, Archibald (Brady, Young) 7:48 (pp). 7, O, Archibald (Zombo, Guentzel) 13:56.

THIRD PERIOD: 8, O, Archibald (Zombo, Seeler) 2:51. 9, O, Raubenheimer (Lane, Searfoss) 11:35.

SAVES: UND, Saunders 5-14-10–29. O, Thompson 7-11-5–23.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald