Unbeaten Saturdays still intact

UND men’s hockey team remains victorious in Saturday games


UND goaltender Zane McIntyre plays between the pipes earlier this season. The junior was named NCHC player of the week this week after posting a season-high 41 saves last weekend. Photo by Nicholas Nelson/The Dakota Student.

Starting the second half of the season ranked as the No. 1 team in the country was almost as foreign as watching Zane McIntyre earn a slashing penalty last weekend.

In the UND men’s hockey team’s best start under coach Dave Hakstol, last weekend’s heated matchup against NCHC rival Minnesota Duluth left little room for sinking momentum.

Yet after a 4-1 loss last Friday, McIntyre’s season-high 41 saves Saturday helped his team rebound to a 5-2 victory in the midst of intense battles that left nearly a dozen skaters shuffling in and out of the penalty box in the third frame.

Even McIntyre was in on the action. The goaltender took a slashing penalty in the third period and registered an assist in the second period.

“Thank God he didn’t get into a fight,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said with a smile. “He was involved. Everyone takes it a little bit personally when you have a subpar performance in your own building … probably nobody more so than Zane, with his character for this team and this program.”

His performance earned him the honor of being named the NCHC goaltender of the week for the third time in the past five weeks — a mark he achieved with a league-leading save percentage, saves, starts, wins, appearances and minutes so far this season.

Brendan O’Donnell also put forth a stellar weekend with a hat trick last Saturday that sparked North Dakota’s offense. His goals helped North Dakota solidify its record of never having lost a game when the senior scores.

Saturday losses have become non-existent for this team — UND posting a 10-0-1 record on Saturday’s since the beginning of the season.

But last weekend’s result only served as a reminder of this team’s inconsistency in its execution. Even with UND’s ability to make a comeback from a team that handed North Dakota a two-goal deficit in a manner of minutes, maintaining a strong start is crucial.

“We know we have that resiliency,” Hakstol said. “The step we need to take is to hold this level of play. We haven’t done that consistently, so that’s the challenge in front of us as a hockey team … We shouldn’t be a team that needs to have a bounce-back performance on Saturday from our Friday performance. We need to hold a level, and that’s what the second half dictates if we want to have success.”

Now sitting ranked No. 3 in the country according to the most recent USCHO.com poll, this weekend’s battle at home against Niagara will be North Dakota’s last non-conference series of the regular season.

UND holds a 7-1-1 non-conference record this season, the most non-conference wins under Hakstol’s 11 years. The last time UND came close was in 2002-03 when the team earned 10 under then head coach Dean Blais.

Though the Purple Eagles haven’t won in their last eight games (0-6-2), North Dakota knows it has a challenge ahead of itself.

This year’s roster isn’t climbing a steep hill in a race to the top as it has been in recent years, boasting a 15-5-2 overall record and a 7-4-1 conference record.

After skating in what Hakstol deemed North Dakota’s toughest opponent so far this season in Minnesota Duluth, the philosophy that pushed it ahead lies in the determination of its players.

“We just knew we had to go out there and play hard, and it would come our way,” senior captain Stephane Pattyn said.

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