Moving forward with a missing piece

UND’s Mark MacMillan suffers injury during Friday night’s game, remains out of lineup indefinitely

UND junior goaltender Zane McIntyre stands in the net Saturday evening at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Photo By Jennifer Friese/The Dakota Student.

Mark MacMillan’s absence was noticed Saturday evening, but his teammates knew their responsibilities in filling in the gap.

The UND men’s hockey team’s leading scorer underwent surgery Saturday morning after his wrist was cut by a skate during Friday’s matchup against Providence College.

“Obviously it’s not great seeing one of our captains go down,” UND junior Zane McIntyre said. “We have a lot of depth on our team, I think. And that’s maybe one of our strengths. I think there’s a big void to fill obviously, but we have numerous guys that can step up and make a contribution.”

Freshman Austin Poganski took a leap at closing the gap as he notched his first collegiate goal on Saturday when he tipped in a puck from Bryn Chyzyk to put UND up 2-1 in the second period.

Friday’s 6-1 non-conference victory over the Friars set the stage Saturday for a chance at North Dakota’s first 5-win October since 1986. But it was forced to settle with a 2-2 tie as Nick Saracino tipped a puck past Zane McIntyre with just 38.3 seconds left on the clock.

McIntyre, who is UND’s all-time leader with a .924 save percentage and boasts a 2.15 career goals against average took the result as motivation to improve.

“I think it’s obviously a learning curve,” McIntyre said. “Playing a big game like this early on in the year, a lot of people can take away great things, our young guys especially — knowing how to close out a game in a big situation like tonight. I think it’s more a maturation process than anything. Getting to experience the heartbreak and needing to focus and close out a game.”

North Dakota’s penalty kill unit went 8-for-8 Friday night and let up one goal Saturday, killing six of seven Friar power plays.

Mark MacMillan played a critical role in North Dakota’s special teams, but Hakstol sees the team as capable of undertaking the challenge.

“We need to address the face off dot and replace Mark on the kill,” Hakstol said. “Those are two areas Mark is really good. We did okay with that tonight, but maybe we can do better there next weekend.”

North Dakota will host Air Force on Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena, its entire lineup working to fill a critical void.

“We’ve got so much depth,” Chyzyk said. “Obviously Mark is one of the top players in the country, but definitely we’ve got guys in the lineup that can step in and we’ve got guys that can increase their roles.”

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