DENVER -- It was Groundhog’s Day on Saturday.
And just like the 1993 movie, the UND hockey team must feel like it’s living this day over and over again.
Saturday night’s 1-1 tie against Denver in Magness Arena wasn’t as dominant as other efforts where the Fighting Hawks weren’t rewarded, but it had a lot of the same elements.
Difficulty finishing chances? Yes. UND scored just once on 32 shots in the series finale and twice on 78 shots for the weekend.
Difficulty keeping the goals on the board? Yes. Jasper Weatherby scored an apparent goal in the second period that was wiped off by goaltender interference -- a call that irked Fighting Hawks head coach Brad Berry.
A few bad breaks? That, too. Denver’s lone goal was a pass from behind the net that went off UND defenseman Gabe Bast’s leg and in the net.
It all added up to no wins and just a single point on the weekend.
“I thought the guys had an outstanding effort,” Berry said. “I thought the first two periods, I thought we controlled play. The third period was kind of back-and-forth. We took a few icing calls that got us back on our heels. But we had a good enough effort to win a game. It’s disappointing that a disallowed goal comes into play.”
Denver extended its lead on UND to three points for the fourth place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings thanks to Brett Stapley’s goal in the three-on-three portion of overtime, which gave the Pioneers an extra point. The top four teams host first-round league playoff series -- something UND has done for the past 16 seasons.
UND moved to 13-12-2 overall and 7-8-2 in NCHC play, while holding at No. 21 in the Pairwise Rankings.
Both goaltenders stood out in the series finale.
Denver goalie Filip Larsson, who has stopped 108 of 111 shots against UND this season, turned in another terrific performance. His biggest save came on Rhett Gardner, who had an open look from the slot with five seconds left in regulation.
UND goalie Adam Scheel also was outstanding in net, stopping 26 of 27 shots. His biggest save may have been a pad stop on Jack Doremus, who was standing alone on top of the crease, late in overtime.
Scheel stopped 51 of 54 shots on the weekend, but only received two goals in support. The freshman netminder said he doesn’t mind having the responsibility of keeping the score low when the goals aren’t coming for his team.
“That’s in the job description of being a goalie,” Scheel said. “Sometimes, you need to keep the score low.”
UND had to kill off a five-minute major after Dixon Bowen was called for a contact-to-the-head major early in the first period. That major included a five-on-three for a full two minutes after Gardner went to the box, too.
Moments after finishing a tremendous penalty kill, Denver cashed in on the pass that hit Bast’s leg.
“I thought we did an outstanding job killing the five-minute major and the five-on-three,” Berry said. “Right after the expiration, it goes in. But you know what? It didn’t faze our guys. I thought we had a strong period after that and a good second period. We battled up. That’s this team. A lot hasn’t been going right in the last little while here, but the guys have battled up and had the mentality. We’ll prove that again.”
An indication that things aren’t going right for UND came with 8:35 left in the second period, when Weatherby put the puck in the net on a backhand wraparound. Officials ruled that Casey Johnson interfered with Larsson, but Berry thought Johnson was pushed into the goalie by Denver defenseman Ian Mitchell.
“I thought it was a goal,” Berry said. “We got pushed into the net. Obviously, the goalie couldn’t get back in the net, but it wasn’t a case of us trying to get him out of the net. He got pushed in.
“It’s disappointing, but it is what it is. We’ve got to move on.”
Shaw said: “It seems like every goal we have has a chance of getting disallowed.”
The Fighting Hawks did eventually tie it with 12.9 seconds left in the second on a terrific individual effort by Shaw.
The sophomore defenseman intercepted a breakout pass by Stapley in the right circle, got body positioning on Emilio Pettersen, moved the puck around Stapley and rifled a shot inside the post while falling down.
UND played its second-straight game without captain Colton Poolman, who prior to this weekend had never missed a college game, but Berry said Poolman might be back in time for UND’s next game in two weeks against Western Michigan.
“He’s made some progress,” Berry said, “and hopefully, we’ll have him back.”
Denver played without senior forward Jarid Lukosevicius, who appeared to suffer an injury late in Friday’s game on a check by UND’s Mark Senden, who was called for a two-minute minor on the play.
Bowen will have to serve an automatic one-game suspension because his contact to the head major was his third game misconduct of the season. He will miss the series opener against Western Michigan on Feb. 15, but will be eligible to play in the series finale the following day.