DENVER – Video reviews have not been very kind to the University of North Dakota hockey team.
Last March, a Dixon Bowen overtime goal in an eventual regional semifinal loss to Boston University was overturned. Last Saturday, Johnny Simonson thought he had scored an overtime winner against Miami until a review ruled otherwise, ultimately resulting in a 3-3 tie.
UND was done in again tonight by another critical, late-game review in a 4-1 loss at top-ranked Denver.
Freshman Jordan Kawaguchi tied the game at 2-2 with 14:50 left in the second period, converting a brilliant rush and setup by classmate Collin Adams. But after a lengthy discussion among the officials, a view review was triggered, and it was ultimately ruled that Adams’ stick interfered with Denver goaltender Tanner Jaillet. The goal was taken off the board and it remained a 2-1 Pioneers’ lead.
Denver took full advantage of the good fortune in the ensuing minutes, blowing the doors off the game with power-play goals by Troy Terry and Henrik Borgström three-and-a-half minutes apart. Terry’s goal came just one minute after Kawaguchi’s potential tying goal was taken off the board.
Just like that, a 2-2 nailbiter had instead turned into a three-goal lead for the Pioneers.
UND head coach Brad Berry had not yet seen a replay of the overturned goal following the game.
“I want to see it here. I’m disappointed in the way the whole night shook out and I’m just going to leave it for that,” said Berry.
Said junior winger Joel Janatuinen: “You try to bounce back from that and we should have, but we couldn’t this time.”
UND was able to leave Magness Arena with a NCHC split against the defending national champions, but the potential for more – possibly even UND’s first sweep in Denver since 2003 – was on the table until the game-changing review.
“We grew as a team,” said Berry. “We got a lot of information on our younger guys that took a step this weekend. I thought our older guys did a really good job of leadership. Tough place to play, good team. They’ve got a lot of guys who should be in the NHL who decided to come back and we played them straight up and we got a game out of it.”
Following Friday night’s 5-4 comeback, UND had emphasized the need for a better start and that’s exactly what the Fighting Hawks produced. Adams led a rush into the DU zone and patiently held the puck into the right faceoff circle before sliding a pass across the slot into the left circle, where freshman defenseman Matt Kiersted received the pass and buried a wrister past Jaillet, putting UND ahead 1-0 seven minutes into the game.
“I thought today we had a pretty good start. Penalties kind of got us in trouble throughout the game. They took advantage of their power plays,” said Poganski.
The Pioneers answered late in the first period with their first of three power-play strikes. Borgström converted an Ian Mitchell feed to tie the game with 4:14 left in the opening frame while Denver was enjoying a 5-minute man advantage. UND sophomore winger Cole Smith had been assessed a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit on DU defenseman Adam Plant, one of eight UND penalties on the night.
The 1-1 score held through the second period. The Pioneers grabbed the lead – for good, as it turned out – just 65 seconds into the third when Troy Terry maneuvered UND goalie Peter Thome out of position and centered to Colin Staub, who made no mistake with an open net.
Kawaguchi appeared to answer four minutes later, but the play was overturned and the Fighting Hawks (8-3-3, 3-2-1-1 NCHC) were forced to settle for the split.
“Obviously it sucks to lose like that,” said Janatuinen. “It’s pretty of hard to win on the road when you have 20 more penalty minutes than the other guys. Five on five we played well, so it’s disappointing.”
The Pioneers finished 3-7 against UND’s top-rated PK unit, while the Fighting Hawks enjoyed just 33 seconds with the man advantage.
“Here at North Dakota we just play a hard-nosed game,” said Poganski. “I thought guys were just finishing our checks and that’s how we play here and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
UND returns home next weekend to host non-conference foe Union in the 2017 Subway Holiday Classic.
“There’s definitely some positives to take out of this weekend. To split in Denver is never easy, so we’ll take the positive out of this.”