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Basketball Big Game Plans - WBB
Mark MacMillan matched his career high three points.
North Dakota hands host Denver 6-1 thumping
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Updated: Wednesday 02/24/2013 00:00:31 (ET)
by Jayson Hajdu, UND Athletic Media Relations
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DENVER -- Following last night's 5-4 loss to Denver, senior assistant captain Corban Knight called North Dakota's performance "unacceptable."

Knight and his teammates responded in Saturday's series finale by handing the 10th-ranked Pioneers their worst home loss in more than five years, a 6-1 drubbing that moved UND into a tie for third place in the WCHA.

UND got goals from six different players, scored three times on the power play and held DU's red-hot power play to just one goal in seven chances.

"Obviously a big bounce-back win after last night," said sophomore forward Mark MacMillan (Penticton, British Columbia), who had a goal and two assists. "Last night wasn't good enough. We came out today and special teams were great, and that's what you need to do this time of year to win games."

After DU's Ty Loney opened the scoring with a power-play goal 8:50 into the game, UND roared back with three straight to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission. Knight set up Kristo on the doorstep to tie the game midway through the first, then Carter Rowney (Sr., Sexsmith, Alberta) gave UND the lead for good when he jammed home a MacMillan rebound for his second goal of the weekend.

Grimaldi closed out the first-period scoring when he one-timed a cross-ice feed from Kristo with just 12 seconds left on the clock. The goal gave UND a 2-goal cushion and sent DU goalie Juho Olkinuora to the bench for Sam Brittain.

Olkinuora was named the game's No. 1 star on Friday after a 35-save performance.

"No matter who's playing in net you're going to try getting pucks and bodies to the net," said MacMillan. "He's been phenomenal against us all year. The more you go to the net on a goalie the more you're going to get to him and today we just happened to get to him."

MacMillan provided UND with another late goal with just one second left in the second period, knocking home a rebound in a goal mouths scramble on the power play.

"(Scoring a late goal is) big momentum for the next period. When you're on the other side of that, it's demoralizing. Obviously it's big for us to get that and get momentum," said MacMillan. "When I looked up and saw zeroes on the clock I was kind of worried a little bit, but all the guys on the bench said it was in before (the buzzer)."

MacMillan's goal came just moments after DU's Zac Larraza missed the net on a shorthanded breakaway, a sequence UND coach Dave Hakstol said was critical.

"The difference between giving up one at the end of the second on the shorthanded breakaway - (Larraza) misses and we go right back down and score right at the buzzer, that's obviously a key turning point."

UND iced the game in a penalty-filled third period on goals by Michael Parks (So., St. Louis, Mo.) and Dillon Simpson (Jr., Edmonton, Alberta).

Simpson's goal came on the power play, where UND finished 3-for-9.

"It was a game with so much specialty teams play that there were a lot of guys that didn't get a lot of minutes," said Hakstol. "The difference from last night is every time we had guys on the ice, they were contributing in one way or another. That was what I thought we were missing in last night's game."

Junior goalie Clarke Saunders quietly enjoyed a solid outing, stopping 28 of 29 shots for his 11th win of the season.

With the victory, UND improved to 17-9-6 overall and 12-6-6 in the WCHA heading into next weekend's home series against Bemidji State, the final home series of the regular season.

Notes: MacMillan's three points matched his career high ... Simpson also had a goal and two assists for his first career 3-point game ... Kristo had a goal - his career-high and WCHA-leading 20th of the season -and an assist and now has 14 goals in his last 17 games. He has 29 points during that stretch.


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