TOM MILLER: Win puts Denver series in rear-view mirror
The UND men's hockey team dangled Grand Forks' sanity in the balance late Friday night. North Dakota fans don't handle two losses in a row very well. Three? That might call for a full-on rebellion. That narrow margin flipped UND's script from a t...
The UND men’s hockey team dangled Grand Forks’ sanity in the balance late Friday night.
North Dakota fans don’t handle two losses in a row very well. Three? That might call for a full-on rebellion.
That narrow margin flipped UND’s script from a team panicking after three straight losses to a team bouncing back and building momentum for the postseason push.
UND’s Austin Poganski scored on a penalty shot in overtime to lead UND to a 2-1 win over Minnesota Duluth, pushing UND fans’ nightmares of a sweep in Denver out of mind.
“It was huge,” Poganski said. “You never like to lose two in a row, let alone one. It was huge to come back. No more hiccups in the road now.”
There hadn’t been many hiccups in the road in Brad Berry’s first season at the helm after the departure of Dave Hakstol.
UND cruised through most of the season, climbing near the top of the national rankings.
Then came last weekend in Colorado.
All of the sudden, UND struggled defensively, an area the Fighting Hawks had excelled at throughout the year.
The head-scratching weekend would have been magnified with a loss to Duluth at home in the series opener.
Yet, now, that’ll likely be just a distant memory.
“I think this was huge for us,” UND senior Coltyn Sanderson said. “Last weekend was disappointing, but you have to flip the switch in college hockey. You can’t think of last weekend when a team like Duluth comes to town.”
It didn’t take a dominant effort for UND to bounce back. Duluth had the Fighting Hawks on their heels late, including a two-minute stretch on the penalty kill to start overtime.
But like UND has done so many times, the Fighting Hawks found a way to win.
And it’s a good thing, too. You wouldn’t want to lose three straight, right coach Berry?
“Never,” Berry said. “It was a good bounce-back win. There were a lot of ebbs and flows in this game. The biggest thing for us was tightening up defensively tonight. That’s a very good team over there with a lot depth.”