OMAHA, Neb. – Following North Dakota’s 9-1 National Collegiate Hockey Conference romp over Omaha on Friday night, Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town could be heard blaring from the Fighting Hawks’ locker room.
An odd post-game song choice, considering Christmas came and went nearly two full weeks ago.
Boeser returned from a 6-game injury absence and scored twice in the first period. Jost, back from the World Junior Championship in Montreal, arrived in Omaha only four hours before the game and had a goal and an assist in the opening 20 minutes.
It was part of a five-goal opening period that stunned the 18th-ranked Mavericks and a sold-out crowd of 7,898.
The dynamic duo of Boeser and Jost helped lift UND (11-6-3, 4-4-1-1 NCHC) to its most lopsided victory in six years, but they hardly did all of the heavy lifting on their own.
Seventeen of UND’s 18 skaters registered at least a point. Eight had multi-point games, but only freshman Ludvig Hoff (3 assists) had more than two.
“We’ve had all different kinds of lineups the last few weeks, even in practice,” said UND head coach Brad Berry. “The biggest thing is the guys having trust in that it doesn’t matter who you put on the ice or what line combinations or D pairings (you use). You’ve got to do the job and play the right way.”
Play the right way, they did.
Boeser opened the scoring just 3:30 into the game with his first goal since Nov. 4, and Ausmus ended a 90-game drought just over five minutes later with a point blast through traffic.
Then Jost, Shane Gersich and Boeser scored in a span of 3:06 to make it a 5-0 lead.
Gersich’s goal, his league-leading 15th of the year, chased UNO goalie Evan Weninger to the bench.
“We came into the game and we wanted to have an attack mentality and make sure we had the puck going north,” said Berry. “We forced a couple turnovers and were fortunate enough to get a couple goals.
"We infused two guys who were out of our lineup and that gave us a little bit of a bump.”
Berry didn’t know until later this afternoon if Jost would be in the lineup. The star freshman had just played in seven games at World Juniors and Friday would be his third game in as many nights. Complicating matters further, Jost did not arrive at the team hotel until 3 p.m. Central due to flight delays.
“I wanted to look him in the eye and see how he looked,” said Berry. “He had a sparkle in his eye and he had a jump in his step. He said to me, ‘Manage my minutes and I’ll be good to go.’ When I heard it from him, that’s when he was put in the lineup.”
Boeser, meanwhile, was playing in his first game after an injury-marred first half led to wrist surgery over Christmas. He was told by Berry prior to pre-game warmup that he’d be in the lineup.
“We get two of our best players back in our lineup and they’re contributing right away,” said Ausmus. “Everyone goes when the best players on the team like Brock and Tyson Jost are going and chipping pucks in and making plays happen. The rest of the team follows that.”
Ausmus was nonplussed by the end of his goal drought.
“I’m just happy with our team’s play tonight,” said Ausmus. “Obviously I think they had an off night but we brought it for a full 60 minutes, I thought, and that’s a positive and we’ll look to continue that tomorrow.”
Berry agreed, repeating once again that consistency was elusive for his team in the first half.
“The biggest thing for us,” said Berry, “is knowing that the game tonight, it’s over and tomorrow it starts 0-0 again.”
Saturday’s series finale starts at 7:07 p.m. Central.
Notes: UND outshot the Mavericks 37-26 … Cam Johnson stopped 25 of 26 shots and took over the NCHC lead in goals against average (2.04) … The eight-goal margin was UND’s most lopsided win since defeating Michigan Tech 11-2 in the 2010-11 regular-season finale … The Fighting Hawks were 3-6 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill … Sophomore defenseman Hayden Shaw was the only UND skater without a point, but he tied for a team-best plus-3 rating … Freshman defenseman Casey Johnson assisted on Yon’s power-play goal for his first collegiate point … UND improved to 8-3-0 all-time in Omaha, including a 3-0 mark in UNO’s new Baxter Arena … Boeser, Hoff and Jost were named the game’s three stars.