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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service , Published February 14 2014

MacMillan's two goals propel UND to men's hockey victory

GRAND FORKS – Mark MacMillan crashed hard into the end boards midway through the first period.

The University of North Dakota junior went down the tunnel with trainer Mark Poolman and was worried that his evening was over.

It was not.

MacMillan walked it off and returned to score two goals and set up another in UND’s 3-2 win over Miami (Ohio) in front of 11,231 in Ralph Engelstad Arena on Friday night.

Michael Parks added a goal and an assist as UND improved to 11-2-1 in the last 14 games.

The victory also moved UND into a second-place tie with Omaha – both teams moving past Minnesota-Duluth and three points behind league-leading St. Cloud State in a wild National Collegiate Hockey Conference race.

With the Penrose Cup in the building – the trophy that will go to the league’s regular-season champion – UND started its push for home ice in the first round of the playoffs and for a higher spot in the Pairwise Rankings. At the end of the night, UND sat in 16th in the Pairwise with a 15-9-3 record.

Preseason NCHC favorite Miami continued its shocking freefall, dropping to 10-14-3 overall and 4-12-1 in league play, where it sits in last.

“Right from the start of the game, guys were ready to go,” MacMillan said. “It was a good response after a not-so-good response last Saturday night against Omaha.”

It was a bounce-back game for UND on several fronts.

Clarke Saunders, who had a shaky performance a week earlier, came back with a strong 31-save effort, allowing only a pair of no-chancers. He made several key as UND held a 3-1 lead for most of the second and third periods.

The power play, which was 3 for its last 38 opportunities, converted for the first time since Jan. 24 at Denver.

And unlike last Saturday, UND held on to this 3-1 lead for a victory.

“It was a positive team win,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol, who earned his 250th career victory. “I thought we had some good play out of all of our lines. It was a good win. We’ve got to get ready for a battle tomorrow.”

UND took advantage of goaltending miscues by Miami early in the game.

A little past the midway point of the opening frame, Troy Stecher dumped the puck behind the Miami net. RedHawks goaltender Jay Williams stopped the puck and left it, but MacMillan beat the Miami defenseman to it and centered it in front. Parks was there for an easy tap in.

Just 1:31 later, Dillon Simpson sent MacMillan on a rush up the left wing on a power play. MacMillan snapped a shot low from the circle and it went under Williams. Miami coach Enrico Blasi pulled Williams for Ryan McKay after that goal.

“Sometimes in hockey, you’ve got to be a little lucky,” MacMillan said. “I got a little lucky.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, UND, Parks (MacMillan, Stecher) 12:38. 2, UND, MacMillan (Simpson, Schmaltz) 14:09 (pp).

SECOND PERIOD: 3, UND, MacMillan (Caggiula, Parks) 6:04. 4, M, Murphy (Cook, Wideman) 9:25 (pp).

THIRD PERIOD: 5, M, Kuraly (Greenberg, Czarnik) 19:30 (ex).

SAVES: UND, Saunders 7-14-10–31. M, Williams 6-x-x–6, McKay 2-15-4–21.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald