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TOM MILLER: UND finds offense it has been looking for

Tom Miller portrait

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The UND men's hockey team finally discovered the offensive pressure its been searching for in recent weeks.

On Friday, North Dakota controlled play, peppered Colorado College goalie Joe Howe and dominated statistically.

The improved offensive effort just didn't produce a win. Colorado College didn't have the sustained pressure but it cashed in on its opportunities in a 5-3 victory over UND at World Arena.

North Dakota's glaring note this season is that it entered the weekend having been outshot in seven straight games, the longest streak in Dave Hakstol's nine-year tenure. During that stretch, the Green and White were averaging 36.6 shots allowed per game.

After the trend continued last weekend in a split against Notre Dame, Hakstol looked to his offense to turn the shot tide. In the offensive zone, North Dakota was putting together too many one-and-done possessions, he said. He wanted to see his team cycle the puck, grind in the zone and look for those ugly goals.

In those regards, UND was successful against the Tigers. UND outshot the Tigers with a season-high 47 shots (12 more than the previous high) and held a clear edge in faceoffs.

UND's decided edge off of faceoffs led directly to UND's first goal in which Corban Knight won the faceoff cleanly and fed defenseman Joe Gleason, who scored on a blast from the right point to tie the score at 1-1 in the second period.

Hakstol jumbled his lineup a bit to try to create more offensive pressure, including moving rookie speedster Rocco Grimaldi to right wing on the second line after centering the third line most of the season.

The new combinations seemed to click as UND had a number of chances with traffic in front as the Green and White crashed the net hard in search of rebounds. These efforts simply weren't fruitful.

All this pressure came with the Tigers' having a power-play edge through the opening two periods, a curious statistic as generally penalties reflect puck possession. Colorado College had five minutes with a man advantage to UND's one minute through two periods.

It's too early to declare UND's shots-on-goal problem solved, especially considering Colorado College allowed 97 shots last weekend in a pair of high-scoring games.

But UND showed promising signs of offensive spark against the Tigers. Now, it just needs to find a way to put away more of its chances for its shots-on-goal advantage to matter.

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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