OMAHA, Neb. -- The box score will merely log it as one blocked shot in a game in which North Dakota recorded 18 of them. But the shot blocked by senior captain Andrew MacWilliam with six minutes remaining was arguably the biggest play in UND's 2-1 win over Nebraska Omaha tonight.
With his team clinging to a 2-1 lead and trailing second-place UNO by two points in the WCHA standings, MacWilliam sprawled to block a Zahn Raubenheimer shot in the slot with the UND net wide open. MacWilliam's effort preserved the lead and, ultimately, the win and did not go unnoticed in his locker room, where the Calgary, Alberta, native was awarded the team's hard hat.
"That was a game-changer," said freshman Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor, Calif.), who got UND on the board in the first period with his 10th goal of the season. "He's our leader, our captain, and he's obviously a warrior back there. That possibly saved us two points. That was an unbelievable play by him."
UND head coach Dave Hakstol said the blocked shot symbolized a team-wide effort.
"He made a game-saving, or at least a goal-saving play on that one. You've got to have that -- everyone doing their part," said Hakstol.
MacWilliam's block was one of the few times in which freshman goalie Zane Gothberg (Thief River Falls, Minn.) needed any assistance. Making his third straight start, and 10th of the year, Gothberg turned in a spectacular effort by stopping 33 of 34 shots, including all 14 shots he faced in the third period.
Gothberg also helped UND weather an early first-period flurry by the host Mavericks that included the game's first goal eight minutes in by WCHA scoring leader Ryan Walters.
"We just tried to survive the storm," said Gothberg, who made 13 saves in the first period. "They got one (goal), which was a pretty good goal. They were battling and putting pressure on us, but we survived and managed to tie it up."
After Walters and Kristo traded goals, the two teams took the 1-1 into the second intermission. It would stay tied until Danny Kristo (Sr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) potted his team-leading 17th goal of the season midway through the second period. Kristo missed on his initial chance but, after a wild scramble around the UNO net, was able to bang home a Carter Rowney (Sr., Sexsmith, Alberta) rebound for the eventual game-winning goal.
With the win, UND (15-8-6, 10-5-6 WCHA) extended its unbeaten streak to four games (2-0-2) and at least temporarily moved into a tie for second place in the WCHA, pending the outcome of the Denver-Colorado College game.
UND went a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill but could not score on either of its chances with the man advantage, including a 5-minute major assessed to Mavericks defenseman Tony Turgeon for contact to the head in the second period.
Belfour, the son of UND legend Ed Belfour, stopped 34 shots in his first start in over a year.
The two teams will conclude their series tomorrow afternoon outdoors at TD Ameritrade Park in the Battles on Ice. The puck drops at 4:07 p.m.
Notes: UND has killed 15 consecutive opponent power plays, 20 of the last 21 and 24 of the last 26 ... Gothberg has started five of the last six games, losing once (2-1-2) with a 1.95 goals against average and .935 save percentage ... Kristo's two points game him 146 for his career and tied him with Ryan Bayda (1997-2000) for 26th all-time at UND.