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TOM MILLER: Back to a winning combo

On Sunday morning, UND assistant captain Stephane Pattyn found out he was moving to a different forward line.

He was grouped with former linemates Connor Gaarder and Derek Rodwell.

"When we heard, we all got smiles on our faces," Pattyn said. "We were excited to get back together."

And for good reason.

Pattyn, Gaarder and Rodwell had a hand in two goals and set a tone in UND's 4-3 win over Colorado College in the first round of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The line's first order of business is to be a physical, grinding unit that is difficult to play against. At the same time, the line has shown the ability to break onto the score sheet.

Against the Tigers, UND took advantage of both the group's baseline game, as well as their offensive talents.

Pattyn set up defenseman Nick Mattson for UND's first goal, while Rodwell picked up the second assist. 

The line struck again to make it 3-1 UND in the first period. Pattyn sniped a goal on a rush on assists from Gaarder and Rodwell.

"Unbelievable," UND senior captain Dillon Simpson said. "They were good down the stretch for a while. They've been on different lines the last couple of weeks, but we knew they'd do a job. I was proud of those guys for doing the right things all game."

UND first put Pattyn, Gaarder and Rodwell together on Saturday night against St. Lawrence in late November -- a game many feel was a big turning point in the season.

Pattyn, Gaarder and Rodwell flourished in an energy role as UND's third line, occasionally landing on the scoresheet, as well.

Those three went 10-2-1 together, until UND split up the line on Feb. 14 against Miami.

UND moved Pattyn to the top line with Rocco Grimaldi and Luke Johnson in hopes of sparking that line. Pattyn's move hoped to add a puck-possession player to mix with the scoring talents of Grimaldi and Johnson.

The move went fine for the top line, although the effectiveness of UND's third line tailored off.

That changed Sunday when UND coach Dave Hakstol said that after discussions with his coaching staff, they felt bringing Pattyn, Gaarder and Rodwell back together would give the team a much-needed shot in the arm after Colorado College forced a Game 3 in the best-of-three series the night before.

"We have instant chemistry," said Rodwell, who had two assists against the Tigers. "I don't know what it is, but we're like-minded players. It was going in for us tonight."

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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