GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- It took UND freshman center Tyson Jost just under six minutes to recitfy what he considered a costly mistake on his part.
After Omaha's Fredrik Olafsson tied the National Collegiate Hockey Conference game at 4-4 in the third period with host North Dakota tonight at the sold-out (11,900) Ralph Engelstad Arena, Jost unleashed a highlight reel goal befitting an NHL first-round draft pick to lead the Fighting Hawks to a much-needed 6-4 victory.
Jost stripped the puck (and the stick) from defenseman Joel Messner behind the Omaha net, then spun to the front and put a major juke move on Messner, trying to defend without his stick. He faked him out of position, then deked defenseman Luc Snuggerud as well before burying the game-winning wrist shot past Omaha goalie Alex Blankenburg at 14:11 of the third period.
Just 44 seconds later, linemate Brock Boeser picked an Olafsson outlet pass out of the air at waist level and scored unassisted to clinch the victory, the third UND win in three games against the Mavericks this season.
Those goals capped a four-goal night for the Jost-Boeser-Shane Gerisch line with Jost and Boeser scoring twice each. UND's leading scorer, Gersich, somehow finished the night without a point despite the explosive performance by the top line.
"I like the way our line is playing,'' Jost said. "We've just got to keep it up.''
The line was put back together last weekend for the first time since early in season and it paid big dividends in a pivitol game for UND's NCHC positioning and national ranking.
"It was big for our confidence for sure,'' Jost said of the win. "One thing I saw on our bench today was how composed we were. There was no panic in our game. You saw that before, in the beginning of the year, when we got little bit panicked and we'd kind of melt down. I think maturity is really shining through now. We're becoming a team here that really has a chance to win this whole thing -- the national championship.''
Jost took blame for Olafsson's tying goal at 8:29 of the third period after sophomore defenseman Christian Wolanin had put UND ahead 4-3 four minutes earlier after UND had blown an earlier 3-0 lead.
"To be honest, I was really disappointed in myself,'' Jost said of Olafsson's tying goal. "I take a lot of pride in being responsible in the 'D' zone. I took a shot there, and that was my guy coming back, and he ended up scoring the goal there. I wanted to make it up to the team. I was disappointed in myself and something I learned from. It's not going to happen again.''
He made ammends minutes later with his jaw-dropping moves on two Omaha defensemen to pot the winning goal for the Fighting Hawks (9-11-1-1 NCHC, 16-13-3 overall).
UND had raced to a 3-0 lead with first-period goals from Johnny Simsonson (his first in 11 games) and by Jost, his 12th goal. Boeser's 12th goal of the season just 50 seconds into the second period on a power play made it 3-0, but then Omaha took over the game.
Counting the final two periods of UND's game at Western Michigan six days earlier and the first period tonight, UND had outshot the opponents 52-13 over three periods. Then came the second period against Omaha, where coach Dean Blais' Mavericks outshot UND 24-8 and used two goals from Steven Spinner and one from David Pope to tie the game 3-3 after two periods.
But Jost and Boeser came to the rescue for UND to give the Fighting Hawks just their fourth win (4-7-2) in their last 13 home games.
"Those were high-end plays,'' UND coach Brad Berry said. "High-end players make high-end plays. This time of year, when games are so tight, you need those game-breaking plays. They managed to do it. For the most part, I thought the whole group played well -- except for the second period.''
Berry, like Jost, cited the composure on the bench when the game fell apart for UND in the second period. "There was no panic, no yelling and screaming,'' Berry said. "It was like, 'OK, we've got this.' ''
And they did, thanks to major plays from Jost and Boeser down the stretch.
The victory, coupled with St. Cloud State's 4-3 overtime loss to Denver tonight on a Henrik Borgstrom goal, moved UND into fourth place in the NCHC standings, one point ahead of the Huskies and three ahead of Omaha with all three teams having three games remaining. The top four teams in the final standings earn home ice for the first round of league playoffs.
The win also moved UND up one spot in the Pairwise rankings, from 14th to 13th nationally. The Pairwise rankings system is used to ultimately settle on the 16-team NCAA tournament field.
Game notes: Cam Johnson had 33 saves for North Dakota, Blankenburg 31 for the Mavs ... Omaha came into the game with the league's best power play (25.3 percent), but UND's top-ranked penalty killers held the Mavs scoreless on six power plays while going 1-5 on their own power play ... Named the three stars by the media were Jost, Boeser and Spinner, in that orde ... Gersich, even without a scoring point, led UND with eight shots on goal while Jost had five and Boeser four for 17 of UND's 37 shots from its top line ... Spinner's second goal was reviewed by officials for possible high stick, but was allowed to stand, as was Wolanin's goal, when UND's Joel Janatuinen was ruled to have been pushed into Blankenburg by an Omaha defender, so that goal stood up on review as well.