Olkinuora stopped 31 of 33 North Dakota shots, 16 of them coming in the third period and the 5-minute overtime as the Pioneers and North Dakota skated to a 2-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) tie at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Olkinuora, who came into the game with the best save percentage (.934) in the WCHA, robbed North Dakota sophomore wing Mark MacMillan (Penticton, British Columbia) with five minutes left in the third period and made a great glove save on North Dakota senior assistant captain Corban Knight (High River, Alberta) in OT to deprive North Dakota of victory.
North Dakota freshman right wing Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor. Calif.) had five of his shots stopped by the Denver goalie, including a near-miss late in the third period.
"He had a really good night,'' Grimaldi said of the DU goalie. "He had some big saves I thought were going in.''
Grimaldi was tough on himself after missing a good chance late in the game. "For me, I have to put that in the empty net. I don't know how I missed the net, hit the post, whatever. I basically lost the game. He (Olkinuora) won it, I lost it.''
That's Grimaldi being harder on himself than deserved, but it points out the frustration Olkinuora brought to UND's shooters.
North Dakota never led, rebounding from a slow first period to wipe out Denver leads of 1-0 and 2-1.
North Dakota didn't have a shot on goal until after DU senior wing Chris Knowlton scored at 7:21 of the first period.
North Dakota answered at 1:32 of the second period. Senior center Carter Rowney (Sexsmith, Alberta) scored his third of the season and first in eight games when he floated a wrist shot by Olkinuora after a big flurry by North Dakota.
A power-play goal by DU defenseman Scott Mayfield at 7:43 of the second period pushed the Pioneers ahead again, but UND replied just over three minutes later.
On a UND power play, Knight first won the draw in the offensive zone, then saw the puck come back to him for a point-blank shot that eluded Olkinuora just six seconds into the power play at 10:54 of the second period. It was his fourth of the season.
"I didn't even know it went in until I heard the horn go off,'' Knight said. "I guess it's one of those things where you get pucks on net and good things happen.''
That it was it for the scoring as the No. 6-ranked Pioneers (9-4-2 overall, 7-2-2 WCHA) and No. 9 North Dakota (7-5-3/4-2-3) skated to the tie in front of a sellout of 11,717 at REA.
"He definitely played a strong game,'' Knight said of the DU goalie. "It's always tough when you go against a hot goalie like that. He played well, but a little of the onus goes on us, too. We've got to bear down on our chances a bit more and put pucks where he can't get them.''
Knight was named the No. 2 star behind the DU goalie with Grimaldi, who tied senior wing Danny Kristo (Eden Prairie, Minn.) with five shots on goal for team best, earning No. 3 star.
Kristo made a pass from the left faceoff circle to the opposite circle to MacMillan for what looked like the potential go-ahead goal. But Olkinuora read the play perfectly, sliding to his left quickly to steal the goal from MacMillan.
North Dakota outshot Denver 25-12 from the start of the second period through overtime, but started slowly.
Junior goalie Clarke Saunders (Brockville, Ontario) was solid in goal for UND with 18 saves, just 11 of those shots coming in the final 45 minutes. "In this league, you definitely need to play 60-65 minutes every night to get two points,'' Knight said. "We didn't do that tonight, and we only got one point.''
UND coach Dave Hakstol agreed. "I didn't think we were what we wanted to be coming out of the gates at the drop of the puck,'' he said. "But (later) we generated some opportunities and I thought we gave ourselves every chance. Their guy in goal was real good tonight.''
UND NOTES: Knight's goal extended his career-best point streak to 10 games. Has has two goals and 11 assists during the streak ... UND had a 33-20 edge in shots on goal . . . Knight led North Dakota's 44-29 margin on faceoff wins by drawing successfully on 24 of the 34 faceoffs he took . . . Denver is 0-3-2 in its last five games and now 42-80-6 all-time against North Dakota in games played in Grand Forks . . . Former UND captains Matt Greene, who won the Stanley Cup with Los Angles last season, and Andy Schneider were in attendance.
Virg Foss covered UND hockey for 35 seasons for the Grand Forks Herald until his retirement in 2005. He now reports on UND home games exclusively for UNDSports.com.