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UND extends unbeaten streak to five games with 3-3 tie against Miami

UND's Shane Gersich upends Miami's Grant Hutton in the first period Saturday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald1 / 4
UND's Jordan Kawaguchi works for a loose puck that goalie Ryan Larkin covers up as Alec Mahalak defends in the second period. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 4
UND's Rhett Gardner looks for a rebound off Miami goalie Ryan Larkin in the second period of their game Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Miami players from left are Ben Lown, Louie Belpedio, Karch Bachman and Grant Hutton. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald3 / 4
Colton Poolman and his linemates celebrate his goal in the second period as Miami players look on. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald4 / 4

It wasn't a win.

But sometimes, a tie can be satisfying, too.

Such was the case the last two Saturdays as UND battled back from a third-period deficits to finish a series with a win and a tie.

The latest result, a 3-3 tie against Miami in Ralph Engelstad Arena, extended UND's unbeaten streak to five games—matching the program's longest since the 2016 NCAA national championship season.

Colton Poolman, Dixon Bowen and Shane Gersich scored goals for the Fighting Hawks, who finished off a five-point National Collegiate Hockey Conference weekend when Christian Wolanin scored in the shootout.

"We'll take it," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Coming back from 2-0 shows the resiliency and the response from our guys and the character in the locker room, finding a way to do it. I think it's a learning lesson as far as going down two goals. You can't afford to do that. But the biggest thing is finding a way to come back from that."

UND (7-2-3 overall, 2-1-1-1 NCHC) is still unbeaten since losing starting goalie Cam Johnson to a lower-body injury during morning skate two weeks ago.

Rookie Peter Thome stopped 22 shots on Saturday and turned away all four Miami attempts in the shootout.

The UND win and tie this weekend against the RedHawks sets up what could be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown next weekend at Denver.

The Fighting Hawks entered this weekend ranked second nationally, while the third-ranked Pioneers swept No. 1-ranked St. Cloud State.

The new national poll will be released Monday afternoon.

UND last played in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown last season against Minnesota Duluth.

While UND was satisfied with the tie against Miami, there was a bit of disappointment, too.

The Fighting Hawks led 3-2 late on a goal by Gersich with 3:38 to go, but Miami pulled goalie Ryan Larkin (29 saves) and scored an extra-attacker goal.

Standout defenseman Louie Belpedio fed Josh Melnick for the tying goal with 1:24 to go.

"Not 100 percent excited about it, because that win would have been nice," Poolman said. "But to go unbeaten isn't a bad thing, either. We're trending in the right way. I like where our team is headed. Hopefully, we can keep this momentum going into Denver."

UND got off to a poor start, going down 2-0.

Gordie Green converted a Jordan Kawaguchi turnover at 16:07 of the first to make it 1-0 RedHawks and Ryan Siroky scored on a long rebound off the end wall at 7:46 of the second period.

But Poolman answered Siroky's goal just 37 seconds later, blasting a point shot by a screened Larkin to spark UND.

Bowen, who played prep hockey at East Grand Forks Senior High, tied it just 33 seconds into the third period, sniping the short side on a rush from the top of the right circle.

"I think we're showing what we're made of," Poolman said. "Our starts need to be better. That's a process. We need to get into that. I guess this shows the makeup we have right now, so I like the way we're headed."

Berry added: "We have a lot of things to work on to get better, but I like our resiliency."

Gersich gave UND the lead, burying a Grant Mismash feed from an extreme angle, but the lead didn't hold up for long.

UND senior Johnny Simonson appeared to have scored a goal in overtime on a goalmouth scramble with 1:50 to go, but the goal was waved off because officials ruled that Larkin had been pushed into the net with the puck under his pad.

The teams played a three-on-three overtime for an extra point, but nobody scored so it went to a shootout.

After the first three shooters on each side were denied, Wolanin skated in from the right side, stopped and blasted a slap shot past Larkin.

"I tried to make him drop and it worked," Wolanin said.

While Berry's team is unbeaten on the last two weekends, neither have been sweeps, which is something he stresses.

"Toward the end of the year, you have to win back-to-back games in the national championship or regional," he said. "We've got to make sure we do the little details of trying to close out a game."

Notes: Miami healthy scratched standout forward Kiefer Sherwood. . . UND scratched defenseman Andrew Peski and used Josh Rieger instead. It was Rieger's second-career game. . . Johnson missed his fourth game. His return is up in the air. Trevor Olson (upper body) and Ludvig Hoff (upper body) also missed their fourth games in a row.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He 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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