Roundup: North Dakota Clinches NCHC Title : College Hockey News


February 21, 2021
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CHN Staff Report

Winning the Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champs, comes with the promise of even more when it comes to the national tournament.

Last year, North Dakota never got that opportunity, when the season was cut short because of the emerging pandemic. This year has sure been just as weird, but the Fighting Hawks are hoping winning that Cup this time is only the beginning.

North Dakota clinched the title with a 7-1 win over Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday, finishing a weekend sweep, and raising its record to 17-4-1 (2-0 OT).

The Hawks scored three power-play goals, and six different players scored. Shane Pinto picked up his 15th, Jasper Weatherby his 10th, and Collin Adams scored twice, his 8th and 9th.

It was a 2-1 game in the second, when UNO thought it had tied the game. The goal was reversed for offsides, and soon thereafter, Jordan Kawaguchi took advantage of a loose puck when a UNO defender fell down. Kawaguchi went in alone and buried it for a 3-1 lead and the Hawks never looked back.

Believe it or not, the first period was penalty free. We say that because the third period got out of hand. After numerous roughings and unsportsmanlike penalty calls, things came to a boil with 59 seconds remaining, when a full brawl broke out. In all, there were 104 minutes in penalties handed out, including fighting majors and game disqualifications to UNO’s Noah Prokop and North Dakota’s Gabe Bast. Each will get an automatic one-game suspension.

It was the most penalty minutes handed out in a game this season, and the most in college hockey since Nov. 2019.

St. Cloud State 4. Colorado College 0

Coming into the weekend, St. Cloud State was 4-4 since its great start; not bad, not great. Saturday, playing a single game against Colorado College as a makeup from earlier in the season, the Huskies were clicking on all cylinders.

St. Cloud got three of its four goals from seniors, on Senior Night, and got 23 saves from David Hrenak. Easton Brodzinski and Nolan Walker (power play), both seniors, scored in the first period, in a game that had a noon local time start.

“We were on our toes. Usually we practice this time of day, so the guys seemed ready for it,” SCSU coach Brett Larson said. “It was our best first period since maybe the pod. I really liked our jump, intensity, and it paid off for us. The difference between this game and last Friday in Miami (a 3-2 loss) for us is we were able to extend the lead; that power-play goal was huge for us. It gave us confidence on the power play again. We hit a post later. We really needed that because the power play struggled last week.”

CC outshot the Huskies, 10-5, in the second period, and made it so St. Cloud couldn’t just coast to the win.

“They made a really good push,” Larson said. “I thought we weathered it but it made us spend way too much time defending. I thought we defended well structurally, but we just spent way too much time defending and it got us off our game plan.”

Kevin Fitzgerald then iced it with a goal in the third period. It was Hrenak’s 11th career shutout. 

“I know we have a long way to go this year,” Larson said. “Most people had us picked mid-pack, we want to finish higher than that. I think this team has really pushed each other to keep getting better, and a lot of that has come from our senior group.”

St. Cloud has Minnesota-Duluth coming up next weekend, with the Bulldogs having lost three in a row.

Bemidji State 2, Michigan Tech 1

Bemidji State defeated Michigan Tech for the second night in a row. The Huskies tied the game in the third, but the Beavers scored with 10:10 left to retake the lead and held on for a 2-1 victory.

For the third game in a row, the Huskies dominated in shots on goal but couldn’t solve the opposing goaltender. Zach Driscoll had 33 saves for the Beavers.

“The guys played hard and generated offense. We didn’t give up much,” Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. “They scored when they had to score. They deserved to win the game, and we have to keep working to find ways to put the puck in the net.”

Northern Michigan 0, Bowling Green 0

Seventy-four regular shots, 11 more in the shootout. No one could score. Brandon Schultz finally ended it in the sixth round of the shootout, giving the extra point to Northern Michigan.

Eric Dop made 38 a career-high saves for Bowling Green, and Rico DiMatteo made 36 for NMU. The teams were a combined 0-for-7 on the power play.

“We can start with how well Eric Dop played, he was outstanding tonight,” BG coach Ty Eigner said. “We had some real good opportunities during the first 60 minutes and overtime, but could not cash in. All-in-all the effort tonight was very good, we just need to find a way to get some hard earned goals.”

Despite what’s been a down year for NMU overall, in league games, the Wildcats are now ahead of Bowling Green by one point in the league standings with the same amount of games played. Lake Superior is a point behind that, but in second place due to greater points percentage.

Elsewhere …

Minnesota State needed overtime to defeat Ferris State on Friday, 5-4, despite an absurd shot advantage. No such thing was needed Saturday. It was 1-1 after one, and MSU had to be wondering if it was happening again. Friday, FSU scored four goals on 10 shots against Dryden McKay before he was pulled after two periods. This time, McKay was back to normal, making 14 stops on 15 shots. The Mavericks wound up scoring three goals in the second to pull away. The game featured 65 minutes in penalties, and three game misconducts.

Lake Superior State finished off a sweep of Alabama-Huntsville with a 4-1 win. The Lakers have won five in a row and are 12-4-3 (3-1 OT).



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