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MEN'S HOCKEY: UND downs Northeastern, one win away from Frozen Four

CINCINNATI -- Northeastern entered the NCAA tournament on a 13-game winning streak and with all of the buzz to follow. North Dakota didn't mind. "We don't need recognition to know what we have in here," senior Bryn Chyzyk said. UND, looking every...

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The Fighting Hawks swarm Tucker Poolman after his first-period goal against Northeastern University during Friday afternoon's game at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati. Jesse Trelstad/ Grand Forks Herald

CINCINNATI -- Northeastern entered the NCAA tournament on a 13-game winning streak and with all of the buzz to follow.

North Dakota didn't mind.

"We don't need recognition to know what we have in here," senior Bryn Chyzyk said.

UND, looking every bit like the No. 1 seed it is, hammered Northeastern 6-2 on Fridayafternoon in U.S. Bank Arena to move one game away from a third-straight trip to the NCAA Frozen Four.

Related: Fans enjoy UND hockey game from Grand Forks  

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UND will play Michigan today at 5 p.m. with a trip to Tampa on the line.

It marks the sixth consecutive season and the 11th time in 13 years that UND has played for a regional championship.

UND has reached the Frozen Four seven times in that span. Those were all under former coach Dave Hakstol, now the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers.

The first NCAA tournament game under Brad Berry was one of North Dakota's best performances of the season. It overwhelmed the Huskies in the first two periods, opening up a 5-1 lead before the game was half over.

The six goals were the most allowed by Northeastern this season and the four-goal margin marks the worst defeat of the year for the Huskies, who had been 20-1-2 since mid-December.

"We weren't ready for their speed coming out of the gate," Northeastern forward John Stevens said.

"The pace was more than the guys had prepared for," said Husky coach Jim Madigan.

While the CBS Line got its share of the points -- Brock Boeser had a goal and two assists, Drake Caggiula scored his 20th goal of the season and Nick Schmaltz had two assists -- the other lines set the tone.

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Johnny Simonson scored the first goal of the game -- his first tally since October -- while Tucker Poolman, Luke Johnson and Bryn Chyzyk also tallied goals for the Fighting Hawks. Keaton Thompson chipped in a pair of assists and a plus-three rating.

UND improved to 31-6-4 with the win. The only UND hockey teams to win more games than that in a season are the 1982 national title team (35 wins), the 1987 Hrkac Circus title team (40), the 1998-99 team (32) and the 2010-11 team (32).

Some UND players felt that record got lost in the shuffle after the Fighting Hawks got knocked out of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff semifinals a week ago.

"I think that kind of made us a little hungrier, to be honest with you," Simonson said. "We almost developed an underdog type of role and that fueled us a little bit. We went out there and played a great game. Going into tonight, we knew we were going to get pucks deep and play really simple hockey. That's what we did."

Northeastern actually jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, scoring on its first shot attempt of the game. Defenseman Garret Cockerill sprung Nolan Stevens on a partial breakaway and the son of the Los Angeles Kings assistant coach sniped the corner of the net at 3:07.

That lead quickly disappeared.

UND's fourth line tied the game after a strong shift. Trevor Olson cycled the puck and got it back to Thompson at the point. Simonson buried the rebound at 5:43.

Less than five minutes later, Schmaltz entered the zone on a rush up the right side and tried to dish the puck to Boeser, but it popped out to Poolman, who rifled it past Northeastern freshman Ryan Ruck (30 saves) to give UND a 2-1 lead.

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Late in the period, UND capitalized on its only power-play chance of the game as Thompson's blast from the point was re-directed by Rhett Gardner to Johnson, who had an open net to make it 3-1.

"I thought throughout the game, we carried most of the momentum, which is what we wanted to do," Johnson said. "A couple times maybe in the second we were lackadaisical and it got away from us, but overall, we did a good job of responding to any momentum they got."

Early in the second, Chyzyk scored off of a faceoff and Boeser notched his 26th of the year when he was left alone on top of the crease. By then, it was 5-1 and UND just managed the game from that point.

"I thought both teams competed extremely hard and I'm extremely proud of our young men," Berry said.

Northeastern, which lost for the first time since Feb. 1, finished at 22-14-5.

"We got down 2-1, and I thought we would be OK," Madigan said. "But then we took a penalty and they scored making it 3-1. We were chasing the game the rest of the way. That's a tough team to chase the game with. They play fast. They play physical."

 

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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