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TOM MILLER: Surprise snipe swings momentum

In the opening moments of the second period, Michigan Tech was controlling play and pushed heavily favored North Dakota back on its heels. It took a surprise snipe to swing the momentum at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Derek Rodwell scored his second go...

Tom Miller
Tom Miller portrait

In the opening moments of the second period, Michigan Tech was controlling play and pushed heavily favored North Dakota back on its heels.

It took a surprise snipe to swing the momentum at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Derek Rodwell scored his second goal of the year and first since Dec. 14 at 15 minutes, 45 seconds of the second period to spark a 5-3 win over the Huskies on Friday night in the first game of the first round best-of-three Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.

"That really boosted us, especially because he was so snake-bitten," UND defenseman Dillon Simpson said. "That turned the tide." Rodwell wouldn't be your first choice for offensive spark. But the fourth-liner found the top shelf past Tech goalie Jamie Phillips from near the blue line.

"Derek can do that well," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "He drove wide, pulled it to the middle and snapped hard at the net. It might have been from 40 feet out, but it was bar down and that's good timing to get his second of the year."

After Rodwell's goal to make it 3-2, there was still plenty of game left. UND senior Danny Kristo still had to play hero, North Dakota goalie Zane Gothberg still had to let in a soft goal to make his return tonight questionable and the teams had to muck their way through 71 penalty minutes.

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But Rodwell's goal set up the rest of UND's victory. He kick-started a UND team that was outshot 11-6 through the first period, 25-14 through two periods and 34-24 for the game.

"We spend a majority of the first 10 minutes in our own zone in the second period," Hakstol said. "Then the power play midway through the second period got us back on our even keel, but the Rodwell goal was big for us."

Rodwell admitted North Dakota had more timely plays than overall offensive pressure.

"I don't know if we outplayed them the whole game, but we got goals at the right time to get the win," Rodwell said. "Sometimes, you need to get goals at the right time to win games."

And, usually, it's not Rodwell's fourth line that's asked to find the back of the net.

"It's not our main role to score goals, but when we do, it helps," Rodwell said. "We want to bring energy any way we can, sometime that's chipping one in."

Rodwell, who has been scratched from the lineup seven times this season, might have been the most excited North Dakota player to see the Green and White draw Michigan Tech for a first round opponent. Three of his last four goals have come against Tech.

"I guess we need to tell him to shoot all the time now," Simpson said.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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