Weekend ends with split

UND claims Friday victory, falls to Omaha on Saturday with five unanswered goals.

UND junior Stephane Pattyn skates in last weekend’s series against Omaha. Photo by Chester Beltowski/The Dakota Student.

A warm welcome wasn’t exactly what former UND head coach Dean Blais received when his Nebraska-Omaha me’s hockey team came to Ralph Engelstad Arena last weekend.

Instead, Blais was ejected from the bench before the end of the first period Saturday night, which only fueled his team to post five unanswered goals in a 6-3 redemption game that split the series with North Dakota.

“It definitely did,” said Josh Archibald, who posted a hat trick on Saturday. “If he’s going to do that stuff for us, we’re going to battle for him any day.”

But before the junior forward’s performance allowed UNO to take over the game, he watched the opening faceoff from the penalty box.

As the referee prepared to drop the puck, Archibald and UND’s Stephane Pattyn were given minor penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct — a preview of the bizarre battle to come.

“That’s something we always want to do is come out with an edge,” Archibald said. “I guess there was a little stick work here and there, and we just got talking, and the referee didn’t like that, so he threw us both in the box.”

Blais was thrown out between goals from Tanner Lane and Derek Rodwell to tie the score at one in the first period, and UND continued to control the game with a goal from Drake Caggiula less than a minute into the second period.

In an unfortunate series of events for Omaha, Jordan Schmaltz’s shot moved toward UNO’s Kirk Thompson in the net, but Omaha defenseman Brian O’Rourke barrelled in and took down his own goaltender to send the puck into the net and award North Dakota a two-goal lead.

But that was the end of the control by the Green and White.

“We played 30 minutes,” Pattyn said. “That’s about all there is positive to say. The first period was a good hard-fought period for both teams. We came out hard the first ten minutes of the second, got the lead and then I guess our team just kind of let go.”

Letting go involved five unanswered goals.

“We didn’t respond,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “We built the two-goal lead. We gave up a tough goal and the tying goal in a bounce off a shin pad, and that’s where our team has a history of responding. Tonight, we didn’t respond in the right way.”

Despite six power play opportunities, UND was unable to capitalize on any of them — still holding its record of 3 for 38 in the past nine games.

The six goals proved a tough element to compete against with Omaha’s efforts on the zone entry.

“Omaha does a really good job of it, and we saw that coming in,” Hakstol said. “They did a great job last weekend and did a good job limiting any end zone time, so we knew we had a challenge in front of us, but we didn’t do the right things.”

Friday victory

Clarke Saunders presence between the pipes Friday night, though, became Omaha’s main target.

“I thought the second period was all the Clarke Saunders show,” junior forward Mark MacMillan said. “Obviously that was big for us.”

Saunders faced 24 shots by the end of the second period, which saw goals from both teams to begin the third period, 1-1.

It was in the third that Paul LaDue would make the save of the game.

The freshman defenseman quickly used his stick to drive away Dominic Zombo’s shot in front of the net.

“I didn’t touch that,” Saunders said. “That was Paul. That was a heck of a save — probably the save of the year — it’s just kind of funny a goalie didn’t do it.”

In what would have been a chance for Omaha to get back into the game, LaDue’s quick thinking kept North Dakota on top.

“He got a stick on it, and it was a little bit of good fortune there, but great instinct,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s a great instinctive, defensive play, and Paul LaDue has a way of getting those kind of plays.”

North Dakota tallied three goals in the third period compared to one from the Mavericks — enough to claim the 4-2 victory.

“That’s what good teams do,” Saunders said. “They find ways to win. It probably wasn’t our overall best effort tonight. I think we had some lulls in the second as a team, but like I said, good teams find ways to get a ‘W,’ and that’s what we did tonight. “

With the split, North Dakota and Omaha fell into a third place tie in NCHC conference standings.

Elizabeth Erickson is the sports editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].