DULUTH, Minn. -- Scorching-hot North Dakota will enter next weekend's series at St. Cloud State tied with the Huskies for first place in the NCHC.
UND scored four times in the second period -- three of them coming on the power play -- to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 6-2 victory and series sweep over the Bulldogs in front of a UMD record crowd of 7,009.
The win kept No. 11 UND (18-9-3, 13-7-0 NCHC) even with St. Cloud State in the chase for the Penrose Cup heading into next week’s showdown.
UND, which has lost just twice in 17 games, came out flying and threw 16 shots on goal by the midway point of the first period and 22 after 20 minutes, yet found itself trailing 2-1.
Goals by the Bulldogs’ Kyle Osterberg and Caleb Herbert countered Mitch MacMillan’s first of the season, and UMD led at the period break despite being outshot 22-10.
The visitors never wavered, however.
After starting the period trailing by one, UND had grabbed a 4-2 lead by the midway point of the frame.
LaDue said UND didn’t let the first intermission deficit rattle the team’s psyche.
“We knew we were just a couple of bounces from tying the game and that we could go from there,” said LaDue. “I thought we came out in the first and did what we wanted to do, we outplayed them for most of the period. Second period we came out and did the same thing and popped a few in and that was huge for us.”
Sophomore forward Drake Caggiula agreed.
“We talked to each other about sticking to it, just keep going at it and things will come,” said Caggiula.
Colten St. Clair put the finishing touches on the scoring 2:36 into the third period, knocking home a loose puck in front of the crease.
“Our mindset was really good,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol of his team trailing after a dominant 20 minutes. “If you’re not ready to play, if your mindset isn’t where it needs to be, then that can be a struggle if things don’t go your way early in a hockey game. We were mentally ready to play. Guys had good confidence after the first period.
“You’ve got to come out ready to play on night number two on the road and I thought we did that. I thought we stuck with it. The guys stepped up and made a lot of plays in the second period.”
Sophomore Zane Gothberg received his third straight start off of injury and stopped 31 of 33 shots. UND chased Duluth starter Matt McNeely to the bench at the midway point after the game, after he had allowed four goals on 32 shots. He was relieved by Friday's starter, Aaron Crandall, who stopped six of eight shots in relief.
UND also won the special teams battle for the second straight night, finishing 3-4 on the power play and 5-5 on the penalty kill.
Said sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi: “It was a full 60 minutes by our team.”
Notes: UND finished with a 40-33 edge in shots on goal. Its 22 shots in the first period were its most in an opening period this season … LaDue, Grimaldi and Simpson were named the game’s three stars by the media … MacMillan’s goal was his first since the WCHA First Round last March. He and teammate Bryn Chyzyk led all players tonight with a +3 rating.