Overtime points at high stakes

UND sophomore Quinton Hooker catches the basketball last Thursday against Weber State at Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Photo by Nicholas Nelson/The Dakota Student.

The overtime clock ticked down.

With high stakes and nearly three minutes left on the board, North Dakota’s Brendan O’Donnell fired a shot from the left circle that made the entire UND men’s hockey team jump off the bench.

To begin the NCHC series against Omaha with a 3-2 overtime loss on Friday wasn’t how UND hoped. But on Saturday, the team was determined to claim nothing less than three points as it fought for a 4-3 victory over the Mavericks.

“It wasn’t a relief; it was a focus,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “On the bench, there was nothing else talked about. We didn’t come here for the shootout or split points — we came here for the win.”

That’s exactly what it earned.

In a thrilling rivalry series in Omaha, Neb., UND notched the win on Saturday thanks to goals from O’Donnell and Stephane Pattyn and two from Mark MacMillan.

Thanks to MacMillan’s 14th goal this season, UND is now 10-0-0 this season when the senior scores a goal, following suit with O’Donnell’s trend of keeping North Dakota ahead when he puts the puck in the net. The team is now 19-0-1 all-time with O’Donnell scores a goal.

Although it’s right back where it started the weekend, sitting one point behind the conference-leading Mavericks, UND is one step closer to its goal

“Obviously, it’s not the result we wanted Friday, especially the way it happened,” MacMillan said. “I thought we played a pretty good game tonight. I thought we came out with an even better effort tonight. We needed those three points to push for the regular season league championship.”

Zane McIntyre made 31 saves Saturday evening, while Omaha’s Ryan Massa made 38 as the Green and White claimed the 42-34 edge in shots.

Though the Mavericks goaltender remained difficult to solve Friday night as North Dakota remained off the board until the third period, MacMillan put one past Massa not even a minute into Saturday’s contest.

Omaha was quick to respond, tying the game with each of UND’s attempts to claim a lead.

“Give Omaha credit for pushing back and tying the game a couple of times,”  Hakstol said. “That just defines how the series went.”

North Dakota improved to a 13-0-1 record on Saturday nights and will use this upcoming weekend of rest to prepare for an NCHC showdown against Denver at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Feb. 13-14.

After last weekend, the race to the top is a tight battle.

“I definitely think its the toughest series we’ve been in so far,” O’Donnell said. “We knew we needed to leave it all on the line, and I think that’s what we did.”

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