Saturday nights in St. Cloud continue to be fruitful for the University of North Dakota men's hockey team.
Led by seven points from its top line, North Dakota won its 10th straight Saturday night venture into the National Hockey Center with a 3-2 victory over St. Cloud State. The win was the 200th of UND head coach Dave Hakstol's career, and enabled UND to earn a series split and move into sole possession of sixth place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings.
UND's top line of juniors Corban Knight (High River, Alberta) and Danny Kristo (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and sophomore Brock Nelson (Warroad, Minn.) provided all of the offensive production and combined for a 7-point night. Knight's two goals in the first period sparked UND to a 2-1 first intermission lead, proving the team with the fast start it was looking for.
"We had a great push last night in the last 10 minutes. It was one of the things we talked about tonight, was starting off at the drop of the puck," said Hakstol. "I thought we had a good first period. Everybody was a part of that first 20 minutes and we carried it through."
UND extended the lead to 3-1 just 2:50 into the second period, courtesy of Nelson's team-leading 17 goal of the season, and had several chances to widen the gap but were stymied by SCSU freshman goalie Ryan Faragher.
The Huskies cut the deficit to 3-2 late in the second period when David Eddy converted a Jared Festler centering pass in the slot at 14:14. With the Huskies gaining momentum and Faragher denying several Grade A scoring chances, Hakstol said he didn't alter UND's approach.
"We kept coming. I liked the way we played. We didn't sit back in the third period and try to protect the lead. We played pretty intelligent hockey, but we kept pushing the envelope and pressuring pucks," Hakstol said.
SCSU applied furious pressure in the game's final five minutes, including during a power play after Andrew MacWilliam was whistled for interference with 3:12 remaining. But UND netminder Aaron Dell (Jr., Airdrie, Alberta) turned the Huskies away during several wild goal-mouth scrambles.
Following the failed power play attempt, SCSU pulled Faragher for an extra attacker and appeared to have tied the game on a Ben Hanowski goal with half a minute remaining. But after a video review, officials Todd Anderson and Brad Shepherd ruled that the puck had been kicked in by Hanowski.
Dell, who finished with 28 saves, said he knew immediately that the goal would not count.
"I think I've probably seen less subtle kicks in soccer," said Dell, with a smile.
"It's a character win that took all 20 guys," added Dell. "It was huge for us. It was a big, dirty road win, but it was a good one."
UND (13-10-2, 9-9-0 WCHA) returns home next weekend to host Wisconsin, over which UND holds just a two-point lead in the WCHA standings.