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After shaking off the flu, Nick Jones sparks UND over Western Michigan

The UND Fighting Hawks huddle around goalie Cam Johnson prior to puck drop Saturday night at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

UND coach Brad Berry said Nick Jones' week was probably hell.

Jones admitted that "it kind of sucked."

You never would have guessed it Saturday night in UND's 4-1 victory over Western Michigan to seal an NCHC sweep for UND at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Jones might have had a miserable week, but it ended in fine fashion.

Battling the flu all week, Jones was held out of the lineup Friday night. On Saturday, Jones had enough energy back to give it a go.

Good thing, too, because the Fighting Hawks used his second-period goal to flip momentum and pull away from Western Michigan.

Late in the second period, with UND struggling to muster much offense, Jones blocked a shot in the defensive zone.

Moments later, teammate Shane Gersich stole a dump-in attempt and took it the other way.

As Gersich entered the offensive zone, he dropped the puck to Jones, who found Grant Mismash. The shot attempt from Mismash was stopped by Western goalie Ben Blacker, but the rebound was free for Jones, who punched it five-hole to tie the game at 1.

That key sequence wasn't it for Jones on the scoresheet, either. He picked up an assist on a Mismash goal to make it 4-1 late in the third period.

Battling on the side wall, Jones was able to make a pass from his backside to Gersich behind the net. Gersich found Mismash out front to put away the Broncos.

"It was awesome to have him back," UND forward Cole Smith said. "That's what I told him after the game. 'Good to be back, kid.'

"He didn't play Friday and that was probably a good thing. We pulled out a win without him, but we needed him today. He was able to come in with more energy. Today, you could see a little spark in him."

Jones, a former Ohio State player, didn't practice most of the week and didn't think he could play this weekend at some point earlier this week.

Berry said he sat Jones in the series opener because he felt you need to be healthier to face a physically tough Western Michigan team.

"It killed him not being in the lineup," Berry said.

After being held scoreless last weekend at home against Union, Jones was back in a key role against the Broncos.

He now has six goals and seven assists on the year.

"He's a competitive guy," Gersich said. "He's always hungry and ready to go."

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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