Knowles' OT winner dashes UND's MacNaughton hopes
Courtesy: Jayson Hajdu, UND Athletic Media Relations
But Minnesota State freshman Brett Knowles dashed UND's MacNaughton Cup hopes when he scored with 1:38 remaining in overtime to give the 10th-ranked Mavericks a 2-1 win in tonight's regular season finale. MSU locked up home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs with the win, while UND (19-10-7, 14-7-7 WCHA) finished in third place and will host Michigan Tech.
Knowles converted a Jean-Paul Lafontaine backdoor feed to the right of UND goalie Zane Gothberg (Thief River Falls, Minn.), ending MSU's 10-game losing skid against North Dakota.
The goal also denied UND a chance of sharing the MacNaughton Cup with St. Cloud State and Minnesota.
UND flipped the script from last night's 4-3 win, when the visiting team was dominated through the game's first 20 miutes. Tonight, UND came flying out of the gates, racking up a 15-7 shots on goal edge and taking an early lead on Danny Kristo's (Sr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) 21st goal of the season just 63 seconds into the game.
Brendan O'Donnell, a healthy scratch last night who was placed on UND's top line tonight, fired a wrist shot from the right circle that MSU goalie Stephon Williams appeared to have gloved. But the puck dropped from Williams glove to his feet, and Kristo came swooping in for the easy tap-in.
UND would maintain the 1-goal lead nearly all the way through the first 40 minutes. But a neutral zone breakdown in the final minute of the second period led to a 2-on-1 MSU rush, and Dylan Margonari tucked a shot along the ice that just beat Gothberg to the far post with 15 seconds left in the stanza.
Nothing was settled in the third period, thanks largely to the freshman Gothberg, who turned aside all 15 MSU shots.
UND had several opportunities to win it in overtime, with two of the best chances coming from freshman Rocco Grimaldi in the MSU slot. But both Grimaldi wristers were turned aside by Williams, who finished with 30 saves. Grimaldi led all players with eight shots on goal.
Gothberg, who stopped a career-high 37 shots last night, finished tonight's game with 35 saves.
The lost was the first in the last 10 games for UND, which will now enter the WCHA playoffs seeking its fourth straight Broadmoor Trophy as the league's playoff champion.
Next week's best-of-three, first-round playoff series takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The puck drops at 7:37 p.m. Central on Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.