MacWilliam goal sparks UND in WCHA barn-burner - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

UND Defeats Gophers in WCHA barn-burner

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Keith Jackson's favorite call when something spectacular happened in one of the college games he was broadcasting for ABC Sports was "Whoa, Nellie!''

He would have fit right in at Ralph Engelstad Arena tonight with the roaring voices of 11,846 fans serving as backdrop as he called Brock Nelson's game-winning goal.

The sophomore left wing from Warroad, Minn., used his body to protect the puck, allowing him to sweep the winning goal by Minnesota goalie Kent Patterson at 16:35 of the third period in North Dakota's 2-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) victory.

Whoa, Nellie indeed.

It was Nelson's team-leading 16th goal of the season and capped UND's comeback from a 1-0 deficit to win the eight time (8-1-1) in the last 10 games.

It also brought down the house with the decibel level in REA hitting a pitch nobody could remember hearing in there for a long time.

"It was a high-energy, hard-fought hockey game,'' UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "Obviously when you come out on the good side of those, it's a great win for our team.''

UND was swept by the Gophers when the teams met earlier this season in Minneapolis and Minnesota came into this series tied for first place in the WCHA.

Despite losing star junior wing Danny Kristo (Eden Prairie, Minn.) in the first period on a major penalty for checking from behind, UND found a way to carry on.

North Dakota killed the major penalty on Kristo to get a lift there, but the Gophers took the lead in the second period.

Gopher rookie Kyle Rau slapped in a rebound at 6:29 of the second period to break a scoreless tie. It was 13th goal of the season for the likely WCHA Rookie of the Year.

But North Dakota tied it with nine seconds left in the second period with a goal from the most unlikely source, junior defenseman Andew MacWilliam (Calgary, Alberta).

MacWilliam, who has built a reputation of one the league's hardest hitters, scored his first college goal in his 102nd game. His slap shot from the left point eluded Patterson at 19:51 of the second period for a 1-1 tie.

"He's a warrior for us.'' Hakstol said of MacWilliam's physical play. "That's just not one night. That's how he plays night in and night out. His teammates recognize how valuable he is and how hard he is to play against. It was nice to see him score a big goal for our team tonight.''

Hakstol called MacWilliam's goal the biggest of the game, even though Nelson's goal goes down as the game-winning score. "You come out of that (second period) down 1-0, it takes a little wind out of your sails,'' Hakstol said. "That goal was probably the key play of the game from our perspective.''

"It's been a long time, a long three years,'' MacWilliam said of his goal. "It's good to finally get the monkey off my back. It's a huge win for the boys.''

MacWilliam's last goal came four seasons ago when he played with Camrose in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

The UND victory made ripples on the national scene as well as in the WCHA. UND moved from 19th in the Pairwise national rankings to 16th while dropping Minnesota from No. 8 to No. 13.

MacWilliam handled his goal verbally like a prolific scorer. "I always said if I want to get my first, I want it to be at home,'' MacWilliam said. "Even better, it was against the Gophers. It wouldn't have meant nothing if we didn't get that win.''

MacWilliam was voted No. 1 star of the game by the media, followed by Rau and UND junior goalie Aaron Dell (Airdrie, Alberta).

Nelson stepped up his game in Kristo's absence, leading the Sioux in shots on goal with six, nearly one-fourth of the 25 shots UND managed to 26 for the Gophers.

Nelson didn't take credit for any masterful goal on his winner, though the way he used his body to free up his shot was a big-time play reminescent of how former UND great Jonathan Toews would do the same thing.

Freshman Michael Parks (St. Louis, Mo.), who moved up to the top line with Nelson and junior center Corban Knight (High River, Alberta) when Kristo drew his major, scrapped in the corner to get the puck to Nelson.

"The puck just kind of bounced out,'' Nelson said. "I just wanted to get a puck on net. I had a couple of chances earlier in the game that didn't go in, so I was tying to create a chance. I saw a couple guys in front and luckily it went in.''

The crowd loved it with an ear-splitting roar. "The crowd was unbelievable tonight,'' Nelson said. "That's probably the loudest it's been since I've been here, so that's good to see.''

Dell was sharp in net for UND with 25 saves, six of them coming on Minnesota's four power plays (0-for-4).

The victory boosted UND to 8-7 in the WCHA and 12-8-2 overall. Minnesota slipped to 11-4 in the WCHA and 15-8-1 overall heading into Saturday's rematch at REA.

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