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UND, Denver tie; Gersich 3-on-3 goal provides NCHC point

The game will officially go down as a 1-1 tie between UND and Denver. But Friday night's ending showed exactly why the National Collegiate Hockey Conference is using three-on-three overtimes to decide extra points. Shane Gersich sent the sold-out...

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University of North Dakota forward Tyson Jost (17) and University of Denver forward Tyson McLellan (9) face-off during the second period of Friday's game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

The game will officially go down as a 1-1 tie between UND and Denver.
But Friday night's ending showed exactly why the National Collegiate Hockey Conference is using three-on-three overtimes to decide extra points.
Shane Gersich sent the sold-out Ralph Engelstad Arena crowd home with their jaws dropped after he pulled off a 360-degree spin move on Denver's top defenseman Will Butcher while launching the puck on his backhand high over Pioneer goalie Tanner Jaillet for a three-on-three goal.
While the game officially counts as a tie both nationally and in league standings, UND will get two NCHC points for the game and Denver will get one.
"Sometimes, in practice, you mess around and do that stuff," Gersich said. "Me and Brock (Boeser) always watch Patty Kane and he always does a little spin-o-rama. It was late in the shift. I thought their 'D' was tired. I was tired, too. I just spun around and fired it on net and luckily it went in."
UND only played one three-on-three a year ago against Colorado College, but it was missing two of its big stars -- Drake Caggiula and Nick Schmaltz -- for that one. So the team's full skillset was never showcased in the three-on-three situation.
This time, the skill was on display.
The three-on-three went back and forth for 3 minutes, 28 seconds until Gersich finished it.
"It was a heck of a move," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Obviously, he has the speed and the skill there to make a play like that as a high-end play. The ice was getting beat up a little bit. He managed to control the puck and make a great play."
Berry said he enjoyed watching the three-on-three.
"I think it showcases skill and execution," he said. "We have a lot of great players on both sides tonight -- both benches and within our league. The NHL does it for a reason. It's a great way to decide the extra point."
The game as a whole had both positives and negatives.
On the positive side, No. 6 UND grabbed a tie and an extra point against the No. 2-ranked team in the country and has a chance to finish the weekend unbeaten in the series finale at 7:07 tonight.
On the negative side, the Fighting Hawks didn't finish off a win and are now on a five-game winless streak -- the longest since January/February of 2013.
On the positive side, UND goalie Cam Johnson was tremendous. He stopped 24 of 25 shots, including back-to-back clean breakaways by Emil Romig and Troy Terry in the second period. The only goal he allowed was on the power play late in the game.
On the negative side, UND has only managed one goal in the last 126:59. The goal came from freshman Cole Smith, who was bumped up to the second line alongside Austin Poganski and Rhett Gardner. Poganski fed Smith for a goal-mouth tap-in at 1:05 of the third period.
On the positive side, UND again showed its potential as Denver did not possess the puck in its offensive zone for the first five minutes of the game. On the negative side, UND couldn't translate that early dominance -- the first seven shots on goal of the game -- into an early lead.
"I thought we came out with a big push," Berry said. "We had some opportunities early and again we didn't capitalize on them. They settled into their game. They came out hard at the end of the first and the beginning of the second. It was kind of a back-and-forth momentum shift the whole game.
"The big thing is that's a good team on the other side. They transition quickly. I'm proud of the way our guys responded. Penalties are an issue. We have to address that because it's such a big momentum gain or loss going forward."
The biggest penalty of the game came with 5:30 left, when Poganski was called for interference on an open-ice hit. Berry didn't want to comment on the hit until he saw a replay.
Denver parlayed that into the game-tying goal on the power play. And that's how the rematch of last year's NCAA Frozen Four national semifinal game ended.
"Overall, I thought we played a good game," Gersich said. "But there are things to work on still."

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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