GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Most University of North Dakota hockey players likely focus on ex-UND stars Jonathan Toews and Nick Schmaltz when they watch the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks on TV.
It's a good thing UND sophomore Shane Gersich follows Chicago standout Patrick Kane a bit, too.
Gersich used a spin-o-rama move he's seen Kane try and pulled it off with his backhanded goal off the move on Denver University star defenseman Will Butcher to earn the No. 6-ranked Fighting Hawks an extra league point in the 3-on-3 overtime of what was officially recorded as a 1-1 tie.
Gersich said he's messed around with a variety of moves in practice, but said he had never tried the spinner in a game.
"I thought their defenseman (Butcher) looked pretty tired, but I was tired, too,'' Gersich said. "So I just spun and threw it on net, and it went in.''
DU goalie Tanner Jaillet was defenseless against the shot, coming at 3:28 of the second 5-minute three against three. The goal earned the Fighting Hawks (5-3-2) two of three possible points in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings and now an 0-2-1-1 league mark.
In a fast-paced battle between teams who last met in the NCAA Frozen Four won by UND last April, the stakes were less in front of a sellout of 11,865 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena, but the competitive effort from both teams was just as fierce.
North Dakota snapped a scoreless tie in the third period when freshman wing Cole Smith capped a 2-on-1 rush by one-timing the feed from linemate Austin Poganski at 1:05 of the third period. It was Smith's second goal of the season.
Smith's goal snapped a streak of 108 minutes, 4 seconds since UND's last goal, a week ago at Minnesota in a 5-5 OT tie.
Denver battled back to tie it at 14:47 on a power-play goal by freshman star Henrik Borgstrom at 14:47. His wrister snuck by glove side on UND goalie Cam Johnson (24 saves), who was screened by his defenseman. The goal was Borgstrom's fifth in nine games.
A period earlier, Johnson had made key stops on consecutive breakaways by DU's Emil Romig and Troy Terry.
Gersich spun like a top to top off an entertaining night of hockey and give UND a boost of two league points and an official tie after coming into the game winless (0-3-1) in its last four games. Denver, ranked No. 2 nationally, saw its six-game winning streak ended with the tie.
"That was a heckuva move,'' UND coach Brad Berry said of Gersich's spin-o-rama. "That's a high-end play. That's not easy, because the ice gets beat up at that point.''
Berry likes the 3-on-3 format in second overtime.
"It's a great way to decide the extra point (in the standings),'' he said. "It also showcases the skill levels.'' Berry said the extra point gave his players a mental lift, after going 0-3-1 on road trips to Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota.
"But we're not satisfied,'' he said.
Game notes: Jaillet stopped 29 shots ... Denver didn't have a shot on net in either OT period, and UND just one, the winner from Gersich ... Smith, Gersich, Poganski, Tucker Poolman, Brock Boeser and Tyson Jost all had three shots on goal for UND while Dylan Gambrell led Denver with 4 ... UND had a 40-24 edge faceoffs, led by Jost (10/5), Boeser (8/1) and Johnny Simonson (6/2) ... UND was 0-2 on the power play, DU 1-5.
Virg Foss covered UND for the Grand Forks Herald for 35 seasons and 5 NCAA championships until his retirement in 2005. He's in his 12th year of reporting on UND home games exclusively for UNDsports.com.