Grand Forks, ND – The 5th ranked University of North Dakota salted away this NCHC battle with an empty net goal with 1:02 remaining on Friday. Until that time, despite being outshot badly, the last-place Huskies had every reason to believe they could upend the Fighting Hawks. Down by a goal entering the final session, they hung in there despite being outshot 15 to 4 in the period but simply couldn’t generate enough offense to steal the Friday night contest from UND. The end result was the Huskies third straight conference loss and three games into the conference season, already find themselves 14 points behind league leader North Dakota.
As expected, the Fighting Hawks did their best to control the pace of period one attempting 23 shots with 4 blocked by the Huskies defense and 8 hitting the mark. They gained an early lead with a goal by top first-year forward Shane Pinto, a second round draft choice of the Ottawa Senators 8:43 into the period. A sneaky backhand from below the goal line by Colorado College transfer Westin Michaud landed nicely on the stick of Pinto and he snapped off a one-timer that beat Hrenak clean for a 1-0 North Dakota lead. That was the extent of the scoring in period one with UND outshooting the Huskies 9-6.
The Fighting Hawks added to their lead early in period two on a power play goal after an interference call on the Huskies Spencer Meier. It was an impressive goal by the first-year forward Shane Pinto, who netted his second of the game. Jordan Kawaguchi steered the puck from the right dot to Pinto stationed at the left dot and he unloaded a heavy one-timer that Hrenak had no chance on for a 2-0 lead. But, you have to give the Huskies credit. Rather than getting down on themselves they responded less than two minutes later on a blue-collar goal by Luke Jaycox. A shot on goal by Micah Miller was not contained by UND’s Scheel and in a scramble in front of the goal an alert Jaycox, who pinched in from the point, buried an open puck for a 2-1 contest. North Dakota extended their lead to two goals on Collin Adams 5th goal of the year at 10:51. However, this goal had a little luck behind it as Kawaguchi fanned slightly on this pass from the right goal line and it ended up on Adams stick and he pushed it five-hole under Hrenak for a 3-1 game. It was a stoppable goal by Hrenak with some puck-luck by the Fighting Hawks. A bench penalty to North Dakota at 11:50 handed the Huskies a man-advantage opportunity and they cashed in at 12:33 on Nick Poehling’s third goal of the year. Poehling steered the puck to Hentges at the point who returned the puck to him and he slammed the puck past Scheel from a bad angle to draw the Huskies to within one goal. In a solid period by the Huskies they were outshot 10-9 by UND.
Period three was dominated by the Fighting Hawks outshooting the Huskies 15-4 and peppering Hrenak with eight shots around the goalmouth – all turned aside by the junior goaltender. In the period, the Huskies only had one grade A on Scheel but they nearly tied the game late on a point-blank shot in the slot by Kevin Fitzgerald. The Huskies pulled Hrenak for the extra attacker with slightly over a minute remaining and UND scored into the empty net at 18:58 by Cole Smith to guarantee the win at 4-2.
For the game, UND outshot SCSU 34-19 with SCSU’s Hrenak stopping 30 of 33 shots while UND’s Scheel turned aside 17 of 19 shots. Both teams were penalized three times for six minutes and both were 1 for 3 on the man-advantage. North Dakota dominated in the faceoff circle winning 32 and losing 18. Shane Pinto won 10 of 12 faceoffs for the Fighting Hawks.
Stars of the Game: #1 Pinto (UND) #2 Kawaguchi (UND) #3 Michaud (UND)