Courtesy: Peter Bottini,
Rocco Grimaldi had a goal and three assists in Saturday night's win over Denver.
Career nights by Rowney, Grimaldi lift UND past DU
Release: 12/08/2012
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Monster games.

That's what North Dakota got from the young and the old tonight to knock off Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) leader Denver 6-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 11,899 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Career best four-point games from senior center Carter Rowney (Sexsmith, Alberta) and freshman right wing Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor, Calif.) led the way as North Dakota took three of a possible four points in the weekend series between long-time rivals.

Rowney had two goals, two assists and Grimaldi a goal and three assists as North Dakota (5-2-3 WCHA, 8-5-3 overall) used its season high for goals climb into a tie for fifth place in the WCHA.

North Dakota was cruising with a 4-1 lead and outshooting Denver 22-9 late in the second period until sophomore wing Dan Senkbeil (Fremont, Calif.) drew a 5-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind.

Denver scored two goals in 17 seconds in the first minute of the 5-minute major to draw within 4-3 on goals by Ty Loney and Joey LaLeggia.

UND regrouped and iced it with goals by seniors Danny Kristo (Eden Prairie, Minn.) at 16:53 and Corban Knight (High River, Alberta) at 19:00 of the closing period to lock up the win.

Rowney, who has struggled to bury his good chances this season, scored once in Friday's 2-2 OT tie, then shook loose for his best scoring night ever tonight.

"Past couple of weekends, I was having my chances, but they weren't going in the back of the net,'' Rowney said. "Friday night, I kind of got a greasy one, but I felt like I got a monkey off my back. Today, I was lucky enough they started rolling in bunches.''

UND regrouped well after Senkbeil's major and Denver's two quick goals.

Grimaldi said the players talked about that play at the end of the second period and came out determined to skate away with a win in the third period.

"Obviously that was a little bit of a bending for us, but we didn't break,'' Grimaldi said. "The guys in the (dressing) room, we stick together through thick and thin. I went over to Senks (Senkbeil) before the third, and said, 'you know what, we're going to play for you. We got you. The team took the penalty, not you. That's on us. We're going to win this game for you.' ''

It played out perfectly for North Dakota. UND limited Denver to just eight shots in the third period and 23 for the game while accumlating 33 of its own in outshooting the Pioneers in every period.

A bad turnover by North Dakota staked Denver to a 1-0 lead 1:25 into the game on rookie Grant Arnold's first college goal.

Grimaldi tied it at 17:10 with his sixth of the season with a wrist shot from the high slot after a faceoff win by Rowney in the offensive zone.

North Dakota raced to a 4-1 lead in the second period, highlighted by two goals 1:24 apart, one on a power play, one shorthanded.

Junior defenseman Derek Forbort (Duluth, Minn.) banged in a rebound off a Grimaldi shot on a power play at 5:57. Rowney then scored his first career shorthanded goal at 7:21, knocking in a rebound on a 2-on-1 rush with Grimaldi.

Rowney's second goal of the game and fifth of the season at 15:29 capped a perfect three-way passing play from rookie Drew Caggiula (Pickering, Ontario) to Grimaldi to Rowney in front for a quick tip and a 4-1 lead.

But the major on Senkbeil derailed that momentum and swung it over to Denver before UND came back with a strong third period.

"We had found the way to gain the momentum, but we gave that back with an unfortunate play,'' UND coach Dave Hakstol said of the major penalty.

"After that period, the guys put everything in perspective and did a good job coming out with good poise in the third period,'' Hakstol said.

The line with Rowney moved to center and Grimaldi on the right side opposite Caggiula accounted for 10 scoring points with Caggiula adding two assists.

"Those guys have shown pretty good chemistry and in games over the last couple of weeks,'' Hakstol said. "Tonight they got it over the top where they had some payoffs on a consistent basis.''

Grimaldi (first star) and Rowney (second) were joined by Kristo (third) in sweeping the stars voted on by the media.

Kristo nearly had the play of the year. He carried the puck into the offensive zone, toe-dragged his way around a DU defense while cutting across the crease, only to see his backhand flip first hit the post, then the crossbar before the puck fell to the ice.

Kristo did come back with his third-period goal as did Knight, who had a goal and one assist to run his career-best scoring streak to 11 games (3 goals, 12 assists).

UND NOTES: Grimaldi led all players in shots on goal with 8, followed by Kristo with 5 . .. . Denver won the faceoff battle 34-31. Two of the 10 faceoffs Rowney did win in 24 tries led directly to UND goals from the offensive zone, though . . . UND was 1-for-6 on the power play, Denver 2-for-7 . . . LaLeggia's 5 shots on goal paced Denver, which dropped to 7-4-2 in the WCHA and 9-6-2 overall.

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

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