Aaron Dell got his first shutout of the season and Danny Kristo netted the game winner as North Dakota edged Nebraska Omaha 1-0 to earn a home split with the Mavericks before 11,719 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Dell (Jr., Airdrie, Alberta) stopped all 26 shots he faced and was named the game's first star. Kristo (Jr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) provided all the scoring UND needed with the game's only goal 44 seconds into the third period and was the second star.
The junior goalie bounced back from a disappointing Friday game in which UNO scored on a breakaway in overtime to win 2-1.
"We had guys battling hard tonight. It made my life a lot easier - no breakaways tonight," Dell chuckled.
The game was scoreless through two periods, but Kristo put UND ahead for good in the opening minute of the third with his unassisted goal. He carried the puck behind UNO's net and then sniped the short side from the bottom of the left circle on Mavericks freshman netminder Ryan Massa.
"I came around the net looking for a pass and didn't really see much open," Kristo said. "They kind of gave me a little too much space and the goalie was cheating a little bit. So I just snapped one short side."
UND coach Dave Hakstol said it was fitting that Kristo netted the game-winner.
"I thought tonight his motor was on high; he won a lot of battles," Hakstol said. "Danny worked real hard throughout the weekend. He deserved that."
UND limited the Mavericks to just five shots on goal in the final stanza. A strong forecheck prevented Massa from getting off the ice for the extra attacker until the game's final 22 seconds. With time running out, UNO forward Brock Montpetit got off a shot from the point that rang off the crossbar.
"I didn't see it, but I heard it," Dell said. "I was just hoping that it (the puck) didn't go down. Luckily, it stayed up."
UND outshot UNO 32-26. Neither team connected on the power play, with UNO going 0-2 and UND going 0-4.
Hakstol called it a "gutsy performance," not just because his team was able to hold on to a close win, but also because they got the split despite a juggled lineup. Senior captain Mario Lamoureux (Grand Forks, N.D.), who was not expected to play this weekend, played hurt. Junior center Corban Knight (High River, Alberta), the team's leader in assists and faceoff wins, was out with a lower body injury.
"We're slowly growing up," Hakstol said. "It's kind of what Sioux hockey is all about. Whoever's available, you go out, you do the job; you pull together - man up if you want - and go out and find a way to be successful.
"Mario, obviously, he didn't play at 100 percent tonight. But he did what he could to help the team. He just willed himself in the last five or six minutes. He was real strong on pucks."
Hakstol said that even Knight, who showed up at the arena on crutches, was lobbying to play against UNO.
"It shows you a little bit of the mindset of some of those guys," he said. "They want to do what they can to help their team."
The win improved UND to 9-8-1 overall and 7-7-0 in the WCHA.
"We dug ourselves out of a pretty deep hole," Hakstol said. "We put ourselves back into a position where we have the opportunity to control our own fate in the second half by our performance."
With the first half of the season nearing an end, Hakstol is optimistic that the team is coming together.
"I like the team we're becoming," he said. "We're starting to find what we are. We're starting to figure ourselves out a little bit. Quite honestly, we haven't seen our entire team together yet. It's something we'll hopefully be able to do in the second half. Hopefully, we'll be able to get healthy and we'll be able have everybody available. We'll try to put that together and see how good we can become."
UND next plays an exhibition game at home against the Russian Red Stars Dec. 17 at 7:07 p.m. in Engelstad Arena.