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UND getting timely goals from all lines

UND's Johnny Simonson (10) fights for the puck sandwiched between Denver's Colin Staub (24) and Evan Janssen (26) last season in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Jesse Trelstad/ Grand Forks Herald

UND was tied with No. 1 Denver late Friday night with less than two minutes to go.

UND coach Brad Berry sent his fourth line on the ice.

While many coaches are shortening their bench at that point, going down to two or three lines, Berry decided to stick with rolling four.

And why not?

One trait Berry's team has showed early this season is the ability to come up in the clutch. Four of the team's eight wins have come in the final nine minutes of regulation or in overtime. One of the three ties also came in the final six minutes of the game.

If you examine who produced those goals, it will make sense why Berry felt good about having his fourth line on the ice with the game on the line Friday.

Against Alaska Anchorage, the overtime winner was Casey Johnson from Cole Smith and Andrew Peski.

Against St. Lawrence, the winner was Collin Adams from Joel Janatuinen and Christian Wolanin.

Against Wisconsin, the winner was Nick Jones from Gabe Bast and Hayden Shaw.

The second night against Wisconsin, the late tying goal was Shane Gersich from Johnson and Grant Mismash.

And against the top-rated Pioneers on Friday night, the game-winning goal with 2:31 to go was Johnny Simonson from Shaw and Smith.

Those five goals have UND sitting at 8-3-3 overall and with the No. 3 national ranking. Without them, the Fighting Hawks would be 4-4-6.

Of the 15 points awarded in those five key goals (five goals, 10 assists), they have gone to 12 different players.

The players who have factored in on more than one are Shaw, Smith and Johnson—none of whom are expected to be huge offensive producers.

"I think it's one of those things, with the coaching staff, you have to have trust in your players," Berry said. "We feel with this team, we have trust in all of our groups to go out and execute. I think, sometimes, as a coach, you look at matchups and look at players on the ice for either team. But in our circumstance, the biggest thing is making sure you have energy and are playing the right way.

"You can get a read in games if someone is having a tough game and it's not going right and you can limit playing time. But we haven't had a lot of negative play."

In past years, Berry probably would have been more likely to double shift his big lines. The Drake Caggiula, Nick Schmaltz, Brock Boeser line played nearly every other shift at the end of close games.

Last year, Berry used a lot of Boeser and Tyson Jost.

But this season, the coaching staff has watched a number of different players come up with clutch goals.

After scoring the first and last goals on Friday, Simonson's line with Smith and Zach Yon started Saturday's game.

"On the road, we have to put in our lineup as far as who we want to start before we know who they are starting," Berry said. "We weren't worried about the matchup, even if they started (Troy) Terry's line."

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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