Wisconsin built a 4-1 lead early in the second period and held off a Fighting Sioux rally for a 5-3 win over No. 5 North Dakota tonight at the Kohl Center.
The game was the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) opener for the Sioux, and the loss dropped their overall record to 2-2-1. The Badgers improved to 2-3-0 overall and 1-2-0 in league play.
UND was done in by a pair of Wisconsin power-play goals, including one during a 5-on-3 advantage, and a few key mistakes that directly resulted in Badger goals.
UW's Justin Schultz scored the 5-on-3 tally with a blast from the point with 1:15 left in the second period, making it 3-1, then Michael Mersch scored a 5-on-4 goal 1:16 in the second period to make it 4-1.
The Sioux quickly drew to within 4-3 on goals three minutes apart by Nick Mattson (Fr., Chanhassen, Minn.) and Carter Rowney (Jr., Sexsmith, Alberta), but could not get the equalizer.
"You look at the story of the first two periods, every time we got ourselves back into it we put ourselves back in a hole," said UND Head Coach Dave Hakstol. "Their 5-on-3 power-play goal was a real good play by them, a great shot by Schultz, but we created that 5-on-3 power play.
"You can go through each one of the five goals. We'll use the word discipline, in all the areas of the game. Tonight we took one mistake and turned it into another mistake in a lot of situations."
Rowney's power-play goal midway through the second period appeared to have the Sioux on their way to a potential comeback, but Wisconsin's Brendan Woods responded just over three minutes later with his first career goal.
UND was unable to find the equalizer in the third period, mustering just five shots on goal.
"You can't go on the road in the WCHA and shoot yourself in the foot," said Hakstol. "You've got to go out and play a good, solid, sound 60 minutes. You've got to have discipline throughout your entire game. That's what we'll work to have tomorrow night for 60 minutes."
A bright spot for the Sioux in the loss was the first career goal for freshman forward Mark MacMillan (Penticton, British Columbia). After UW's Mark Zengerle opened the scoring at 8:45 of the first period, MacMillan replied just 27 seconds later with a highlight reel effort. MacMillan carried the puck across the high slot, deked UW goalie Landon Peterson and beat him high with a backhand.
Peterson finished the game with 24 saves in earning his first collegiate victory.
Senior Brad Eidsness (Chestermere, Alberta) started for UND and stopped 14 of 18 shots before being relieved by Aaron Dell (Jr., Airdrie, Alberta) after UW's fourth goal. Dell stopped seven of eight shots.
"I think we need better efforts from a lot of areas of our lineup than we got tonight," said Hakstol. "We need to have that happen for us tomorrow. We were not complete tonight."
Saturday's series finale begins at 7:07 p.m.
Notes: Corban Knight (Jr., High River, Alberta) assisted on Rowney's goal, giving him at least one point in all five games this season ... Kristo also drew an assist on the play, giving him a team-leading eight points (2g, 6a) this season.