KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- After UND lost 2-1 to Minnesota State-Mankato in October, the Herald's game story detailed how the Fighting Hawks played well but have got to find a way to win close or toss-up games.
A season ago, the Fighting Hawks went 6-8-1 in one-goal games (excluding empty-netters) the last three months of the season and narrowly missed the NCAA tournament because of it.
It seemed that UND just couldn't get the clutch goal or save at the key time.
Things have changed drastically this season.
Since that night in Mankato, UND is 7-0-1 in one-goal games.
I've written repeatedly about the goal-scorers in those games, but there are two other key metrics that tell the story -- and they told the story in UND's 1-0 overtime win against Western Michigan on Friday night.
Sophomore goalie Adam Scheel has been unbelievable in key situations this season.
College Hockey News's advanced statistics page includes goaltenders' save percentages in "close" situations -- if the game is within a goal in the first/second periods or tied in the third period (at even strength) and their save percentage while shorthanded.
Scheel leads the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in both metrics.
In fact, strangely enough, Scheel's save percentage when shorthanded is better than it is at even strength and his save percentage in "close" situations is the highest of all his metrics.
Only one NCHC goalie has a save percentage within 60 points of Scheel when shorthanded.
While it's also true that UND has had numerous players come up with clutch goals, often times, they're allowed to get that winner because Scheel has been at his best when the game is on the line.
'Close' save percentage
.939 - Adam Scheel, North Dakota
.932 - Matt Vernon, Colorado College
.931 - Hunter Shepherd, Duluth
.927 - David Hrenak, St. Cloud State
.924 - Ryan Larkin, Miami
.922 - Magnus Chrona, Denver
.912 - Isaiah Saville, Omaha
.909 - Brandon Bussi, Western Michigan
'Close' denotes when the game is within a goal in the first/second period or tied in the third period. It includes only even-strength situations.
Shorthanded save percentage
.930 - Adam Scheel, North Dakota
.926 - Magnus Chrona, Denver
.867 - Isaiah Saville, Omaha
.866 - Brandon Bussi, Western Michigan
.862 - Ryan Larkin, Miami
.852 - Hunter Shepherd, Duluth
.825 - Matt Vernon, Colorado College
.780 - David Hrenak, St. Cloud State
Other notes and thoughts
- It's not just that Scheel has come up with clutch saves while shorthanded, UND's penalty killers have been outstanding, too. Colton Poolman and Andrew Peski were called upon in the three-on-five situations Friday and both came through big time. UND has been stuck on the ice with several extended 3x5 situations this season, but hasn't allowed a 3x5 goal yet.
- UND has only allowed 41-plus shots on goal twice in the last five seasons. Both came against Western Michigan in Lawson Ice Arena. When you consider that Western Michigan did that without Philadelphia Flyers draft picks Wade Allison and Ronnie Attard in the lineup, and without undrafted Jason Polin, this Broncos team could be extremely good once it gets healthy in the second half.
- UND's previous seven overtime wins all came in Ralph Engelstad Arena. The last time UND won an overtime game on the road was at Alaska Anchorage on Oct. 7, 2017. Casey Johnson had the winner in that one.
- Friday's game marked the longest a UND hockey game remained scoreless (63 minutes, 40 seconds) in program history. In other words, it's the longest shutout in school history.
- The Broncos blocked 23 shots -- the highest number of shots UND has had blocked this season. The previous high was 22 against St. Cloud State. Western Michigan defenseman Kale Bennett had seven blocks alone.
- Western Michigan, the No. 1 faceoff team in the country, won the faceoff battle 42-30. Paul Washe, who was the nation's top faceoff man, went 8-7 and was booted from the dot numerous times. Collin Adams had UND's hot hand, going 12-7.
- UND has had a couple of games where penalties became an issue, but as a whole, this team has been very good about staying disciplined. Even after Friday night's game, UND ranks last in the NCHC in penalty minutes per game.
List of UND's OT winners since 1987
Dec. 6, 2019 -- Gavin Hain at Western Michigan
Nov. 23, 2019 -- Jordan Kawaguchi vs. St. Cloud State
Oct. 25, 2019 -- Westin Michaud vs. Bemidji State
March 9, 2019 -- Jordan Kawaguchi vs. Omaha
Jan. 12, 2019 -- Jordan Kawaguchi vs. Colorado College
Jan. 11, 2019 -- Ludvig Hoff vs. Colorado College
Nov. 3, 2018 -- Jacob Bernard-Docker vs. Wisconsin
March 10, 2018 -- Nick Jones vs. Omaha (first round NCHC playoffs)
Oct. 7, 2017 -- Casey Johnson at Alaska Anchorage
March 11, 2017 -- Trevor Olson vs. St. Cloud State (first round NCHC playoffs)
Feb. 4, 2017 -- Mike Gornall vs. St. Cloud State
Feb. 19, 2016 -- Austin Poganski vs. Minnesota Duluth (penalty shot)
Nov. 14, 2015 -- Luke Johnson vs. Miami
Feb. 21, 2015 -- Drake Caggiula at Western Michigan
Jan. 31, 2015 -- Brendan O'Donnell at Omaha
Nov. 1, 2014 -- Bryn Chyzyk vs. Air Force (shorthanded)
March 29, 2014 -- Connor Gaarder vs. Ferris State (NCAA regional final, Cincinnati)
Dec. 1, 2012 -- Drake Caggiula at Colorado College
Nov. 17, 2012 -- Mark MacMillan vs. Minnesota Duluth
March 19, 2011 -- Matt Frattin vs. Denver (WCHA Final Five championship, St. Paul)
Feb. 26, 2010 -- Matt Frattin at Colorado College
March 1, 2009 -- Darcy Zajac vs. Colorado College
Feb. 20, 2009 -- Chay Genoway at Alaska Anchorage
Jan. 3, 2009 -- Brett Hextall vs. Bemidji State
March 30, 2008 -- Andrew Kozek vs. Wisconsin (NCAA regional final, Madison)
March 2, 2008 -- Chris VandeVelde at Minnesota Duluth
Feb. 1, 2008 -- Evan Trupp at Minnesota
March 25, 2007 -- Chris Porter vs. Minnesota (NCAA regional final, Denver)
Oct. 13, 2006 -- Darcy Zajac at Wisconsin
Oct 8, 2004 -- Drew Stafford at Maine (penalty shot)
March 13, 2004 -- Drew Stafford vs. Michigan Tech (first round WCHA playoffs)
March 16, 2003 -- Nick Fuher vs. Denver (first round WCHA playoffs)
March 15, 2003 -- Brandon Bochenski vs. Denver (first round WCHA playoffs)
Nov. 9, 2002 -- James Massen at St. Cloud State
Oct. 12, 2002 -- David Lundbohm vs. Michigan (in Buffalo)
Dec. 29, 2001 -- Brandon Bochenski vs. Michigan State (in Detroit)
Dec. 28, 2001 -- David Hale vs. Michigan (in Detroit)
Dec. 9, 2000 -- Jeff Panzer at Colorado College
Dec. 28, 1999 -- Lee Goren at Wisconsin
Nov. 21, 1998 -- Lee Goren vs. Colorado College
March 15, 1997 -- Peter Armbrust vs. Minnesota (WCHA Final Five championship, St. Paul)
Oct. 18, 1996 -- Jason Blake vs. Denver
Jan. 13, 1996 -- Ian Kallay vs. Alaska Anchorage
Oct. 30, 1993 -- Dino Grillo at Denver
Jan. 3, 1993 -- Greg Johnson vs. Bowling Green
Dec. 7, 1991 -- Dane Jackson vs. Denver
Feb. 16, 1991 -- Jeff McLean vs. Minnesota Duluth
Jan. 18, 1991 -- Greg Johnson vs. Alaska Anchorage
Nov. 10, 1990 -- Justin Duberman vs. Colorado College
March 12, 1990 -- Justin Duberman vs. Northern Michigan (WCHA third place, St. Paul)
Nov. 10, 1989 -- Justin Duberman vs. Minnesota Duluth
Feb. 3, 1989 -- Grant Paranica at Minnesota Duluth
Oct. 21, 1988 -- Neil Eisenhut at Colorado College
Feb. 28, 1988 -- Lee Davidson at Michigan Tech (first round WCHA playoffs)
Feb. 19, 1988 -- Rick Forst vs. Minnesota Duluth
Oct. 9, 1987 -- Scott Koberinski at Michigan Tech
***Playoff OT winners in bold