GRAND FORKS -- North Dakota's newly-formed top line of Rocco Grimaldi, Danny Kristo and Corban Knight combined for eight points and was a +8 as UND skated to a 6-4 exhibition win over the United States Under-18 Team tonight at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Grimaldi (Fr., Rossmoor, Calif.) scored twice, while senior linemates Kristo (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Knight (High River, Alberta) each added a goal and two assists in UND's final tune-up before next weekend's regular season opener.
However, the story through the game's first 20 minutes was UND junior goalie Clarke Saunders, who was peppered with 20 shots in the opening period and turned aside all 20. Seven of those shots came with Team USA on the power-play.
The lone blemish for Saunders was a Sean Malone goal 53 seconds into the second period. He was later relieved midway through the second period by freshman Zane Gothberg (Thief River Falls, Minn.) having stopped 24 of 25 shots. The Brockville, Ontario, native started both exhibition games for UND and kicked out 31 of 33 shots (.939).
"If there's ever a positive of giving up 20 shots on goal (in a period), I thought Clarke really got a chance to settle in," said UND head coach Dave Hakstol. "He had some tough saves. I thought he read plays really well and was sharp throughout the first period."
While Saunders was doing his thing at one end, UND was making the most of its chances at the other, scoring three times on its first four shots. Goals by Grimaldi, Knight and defenseman Derek Forbort (Jr., Duluth, Minn.) -- his second in as many games -- enabled UND to build a 3-0 lead midway through the first period.
That lead would hold up through the first period despite a 20-6 edge in shots on goal for Team USA.
After Malone's goal cracked Saunders early in the middle frame, UND responded with power-play tallies by Connor Gaarder (So., Edina, Minn.) and Kristo to stretch the lead to 5-1.
Team USA's Tyler Kelleher responded with a power-play goal of his own with just three seconds left in the period, standing all alone in front of the UND goal and swatting a centering pass past Gothberg.
Team USA made it 5-3 on an Evan Allen power-play effort midway through the third period, but Grimaldi's second goal of the game -- also a power-play goal during a scramble in front -- regained UND's three-goal lead.
Hudson Fasching closed out the scoring for Team USA with his club's third power-play goal with 2:18 remaining.
"You've got to try to separate some of the good from some of the mediocre from some of the poor," said Hakstol. "We saw a lot of good things, but we've got a long way to go to play a complete game for 60 minutes."
Team USA went 3-for-8 on the power-play with 15 of their 38 shots coming with the man advantage. UND went 2-for-3.
Gothberg stopped eight of 11 shots in just over 28 minutes of action. He gave way to senior Tate Maris (Denver, Colo.) with 2:18 left in regulation, and Maris stopped both shots he faced.
UND will open the regular season next weekend at the Brice Alaska Goal Rush in Fairbanks. The Green and White will face Alaska Anchorage on Friday, and the host Nanooks on Saturday.
"We need a lot of our leaders to push and pull in the right direction over the next few days and continue to take steps forward," said Hakstol.
Notes: Kristo, Grimaldi and Forbort were named the game's three stars ... Knight went 18-for-22 on faceoffs on the night and 36-for-46 (78.2 percent) in UND's two exhibition games ... Kristo and Knight led the team with three shots on goal each, while Fasching had a game-high six shots on goal for Team USA ... Freshman defenseman Jordan Schmaltz had three assists for UND ... The announced attendance was 10,251.