He may as well have been looking at tonight's box score.
Seventh-ranked North Dakota edged sixth-ranked and Notre Dame 2-1 tonight, despite being outshot 36-17 in a fast-paced and physical non-conference tilt at the Compton Family Ice Arena. UND junior goalie Clarke Saunders (Brockville, Ontario) kicked out 35 of 36 shots while Nick Mattson (So., Chanhassen, Minn.) and Danny Kristo (Sr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) supplied the offense for the visitors.
The stat sheet suggested a dominant performance by the host Fighting Irish as Notre Dame held a 73-35 edge in shot attempts. Yet UND minimized the number of quality scoring chances and capitalized on its own timely opportunities.
Mattson's goal, a rocket from the high slot through traffic, opened the scoring with 3.8 seconds left in the first period and gave UND momentum after a first period in which it was outshot 18-6, the most shots the team had allowed in any period this season.
"That was a key time in the game for us. We had been back on our heels a little bit," said UND head coach Dave Hakstol. "Our ‘D' did a good job up top, and then the recognition of Nick to attack the forward without the stick was critical. He got all of that (shot). That was a big goal with a few seconds left."
Kristo then extended the lead to 2-0 while on the power play just 2:49 into the second period. Center Corban Knight (Sr., High River, Alberta) found Kristo with a cross-ice pass in the offensive zone, and Kristo streaked in on Notre Dame Steven Summerhays, going forehand to backhand before going top shelf for his fifth goal of the season.
"That's one of those that kind of leaves the whole building (wondering), "Did I just see that?" said Hakstol. "He's the guy we want in a situation like that, one on one with the goaltender."
While Kristo's goal held up as the game-winner, he was quick to credit Saunders for putting UND in position to win the game.
"First period, when we were getting it taken to us, he stepped up. It started with him. He kept us in it (in the first period) and we picked it up from there," said Kristo. "I thought we picked it up in the second period and the third was our best period."
Saunders lone blemish came during one of Notre Dame's five power play chances. The Fighting Irish won an offensive zone faceoff to set up a point shot, and Anders Lee banged home a rebound just six seconds into the power play.
Lee nearly tied the game in the final three minutes of the third period, again with Notre Dame on the power play. Saunders made a save down low and the puck squirted free in the goalmouth to Lee, who swiped the puck into the net as the referee whistled the play dead.
"I had it - somewhere," said Saunders. "Not really sure where, but I had it."
Saunders said Notre Dame's decisive edge in shots on goal and shot attempts were deceiving.
"I think the first two periods I had a lot of shots, but I wouldn't say they had a lot of really good scoring chances, necessarily. Our ‘D' did an awesome job keeping them to the outside, letting me see the puck. They did a great job clearing rebounds. In the third period I thought we controlled the play. We played a really strong third period to close out the game."
UND held Notre Dame to just four shots on goal in the final 20 minutes on its way to improving to 6-2-3 overall and 3-2-0 in non-conference play.
"It was a greasy road win," said Hakstol. "They're a good hockey team. They're good at what they do. They clog a lot of lanes and create turnovers in transition. I thought we had a decent first period. Second period we didn't take care of the puck very well and (that) cost us a lot of time in our own zone. I thought we had a very solid, sound third period."
Summerhays made 15 saves for Notre Dame, which went 1-for-5 on the power play. UND went one for two with the man advantage, and was a Dillon Simpson (Jr., Edmonton, Alberta) post from being a perfect 2-for-2.
The two teams wrap up their series tomorrow at 4:05 p.m. Central.
Notes: Saunders, Lee and Kristo were named the game's three stars ... Knight assisted on both goals to extend his point streak to six games. He has eight assists during that stretch ... Kristo extended his point streak to four games and has reached the scoresheet in eight of his nine games this season. He has four goals and three assists in his last four games ... UND has been outshot in six consecutive games for the first time under ninth-year head coach Dave Hakstol ... UND has trailed entering the third period just twice in 11 games this season.