Maybe North Dakota should invite RDS back for every game.
Kristo slid a backhand pass to MacMillian, who one-timed the pass for the game-winning goal with 34 seconds left in the 5-minute overtime session to lift UND to a 4-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory.
Kristo, a senior right wing from Eden Prairie, Minn., had capped a three-way passing play with senior center Corban Knight (High River, Alberta) for the game-tying goal at 5:53 of the third period. His feed on that play set up MacMillan, a sophomore left wing from Penticton, British Columbia, with half the net to shoot to knot it at 3-3.
Kristo finished with a goal and two assists and MacMillan two goals and an assist for three-point games each. it was MacMillan's second two-goal game of the season, his other coming in the season opener against Alaska Anchorage. He now has five goals this season to lead his team.
MacMillan was just moved to the line with Kristo and Knight tonight. It proved to be a magical formula, leading UND to its first Saturday night win in five tries.
North Dakota rallied from a 3-1 deficit after one period to grab three out of a four possible WCHA points from the Bulldogs, still winless in league play at 0-4-2.
"We had a game plan right from the start, maybe we didn't execute that so well in the first period,'' MacMillan said. "After the first intermission, our goal was to win the second and third, then if we needed to, win in overtime, and that's exactly what we did.''
It was MacMillan's first crack at playing on a line with Knight and Kristo. They had worked together just twice in practice early in the season.
"It's pretty easy to produce when you're playing with guys like 'Knighter' and Kristo,'' MacMillan said. "Both of them are incredible hockey players. It was nice to jump up with them. I was glad it worked out.''
So was the capacity-plus crowd of 11,918 that packed Ralph Engelstad Arena and saw a dramatic victory from North Dakota.
Duluth jumped to a 3-1 lead after one period on goals from Jake Hendrickson, Mike Seidel and Tony Cameranesi, offset only by a power-play goal from Kristo.
But UND freshman goalie Zane Gothberg (Thief River Falls, Minn.) stopped the next 21 shots he faced to allow UND to rally. Hendrickson nearly won it for the Dogs in overtime, clanking a drive off the cross bar. Gothberg finished with 28 saves to 26 for Duluth's Matt McNeely.
Finally breaking through with a Saturday win lifted a burden off North Dakota. "To be a great hockey team in this league, you have to learn to win on Saturday night,'' MacMillan said. "I think that's going to be a big turning point in our season. We really needed this one.''
The victory boosted North Dakota to 3-1-2 in the WCHA and 5-3-2 overall heading into next weekend's nonconference series at Notre Dame.
Kristo found the addition of MacMillan to the No. 1 line a smooth transition. "We definitely had some chemistry tonight,'' Kristo said. "We had a couple of nice tic-tac-toe goals. I'm extremely proud of the whole team. Down 3-1 after the first period, not too much life there, everyone just battled all the way back, one goal at a time.''
North Dakota had a 5-on-3 power play for two full minutes late in the second period and trailing 3-2. UND didn't manage a single shot on net, though freshman Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor, Calif.) hit the pipe flush. "Momentum could have swung against us, but we got through a big penalty kill at the end of the period and came out with a good mindset.''
North Dakota overcame that with the first of MacMillan's goals early in the third period and then his winner late in OT.
Duluth outshot North Dakota 17-7 in the third period (13-6) and OT (4-1) but was outscored 2-0. It was North Dakota's first OT win at home since the 2008-09 season.
North Dakota's rally started at 6:38 of the second period when junior defenseman Derek Forbort (Duluth, Minn.) scored on a power-play wrist shot, his third goal of the season.
Hakstol's thoughts on the Knight-Kristo-MacMillan line? "They made some plays,'' he said. "Chemistry is hard to explain. Obviously they showed they had a little tonight. The plays they made. the goals they scored, they were good, solid hockey plays. They didn't cheat for any of their offense tonight.''
UND NOTES: Grimaldi led North Dakota in shots on goal with five, followed by MacMillan and Forbort with four each. . . Seidel led all players with eight shots on net . . . UND was 1-for-7 on the power play with 10 shots, Duluth 1-for-5 with seven shots . . . UND hit pipes three times, Duluth once . . . UND had a 47-37 faceoff edge, led by Knight's 20-12 mark on draws ... UND's last overtime win at home came on March 1, 2009, when Darcy Zajac netted the winner in a 4-3 victory over Colorado College ... Knight extended his point streak to five games.
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.