North Dakota ends regular season with 5-0 win over Omaha
The season began with a 5-0 win over Canisius with North Dakota wearing its black jerseys and retribution on its mind. The regular season ended in similar fashion as the Fighting Hawks blanked Omaha, 5-0, a team that had beat UND twice this season.
The win gave UND the outright regular season championship in the National Hockey Collegiate Conference and the top seed in the upcoming league playoffs. North Dakota will square off with eighth-seeded Colorado College next weekend at Ralph Engelstad Arena in the quarterfinals.
North Dakota (26-5-4, 17-4-3-2 NCHC) took the early lead on senior Westin Michaud's team-lead-tying 16th goal of the season. Shane Pinto got it to Michaud along the far boards and Michaud raced into the zone and wristed one past Austin Roden stickside for the quick 1-0 advantage just 1:03 into the game.
As a Maverick man-advantage was dwindling down, North Dakota gained control of the puck and raced into the UND zone. Colton Poolman got it to Cole Smith, who fired a shot then later took another shot on his own rebound and Poolman was in front to chip it past Roden for a short-handed goal and a 2-0 Fighting Hawks lead.
Just 2:48 into the middle frame, sophomore Jacob Bernard-Docker's point shot found its way through traffic and trickled through the legs of Roden for a 3-0 lead.
Cole Smith redirected a puck in front for his 11th goal of the season then later, Bernard-Docker added his second of the night for a three-point evening as the exclamation point on the game-- and the regular season-- highlighted Peter Thome's second shutout of the year. Thome needed to make just 17 saves as the UND defense kept Omaha's scoring chances to just a handful.
North Dakota will host the quarterfinal round of the NCHC Playoffs next weekend at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The best of three series begins Friday at 7:37 p.m. with Saturday at 7:07 p.m. and Sunday (if necessary) also at 7:07 p.m.
Notes: Poolman's goal in the 1st period was the 1st short-handed goal of his career ... It was the third shorty for North Dakota this season (Smith, Michaud) ... Shane Pinto won 20 of his 24 faceoffs Saturday and was 35-6 in the dot this weekend ... UND registered its fourth shutout of the season (Thome- 2, Adam Scheel- 2) ... UND improved to 11-0-0 when it scores five goals this season ... North Dakota was without both junior forward Jordan Kawaguchi and freshman defenseman Ethan Frisch, both of whom sustained injuries in Friday's game.