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Jake Sanderson finishes six-point weekend as UND sweeps Miami

The Fighting Hawks won their fourth-straight game and earned their second-ever sweep in Oxford, Ohio.

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UND defenseman Jake Sanderson controls the puck Saturday night against Miami in Goggin Ice Arena. Photo by Bella Sagarese / Miami University Athletics
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OXFORD, Ohio — Early in the first period, Jake Sanderson skated up the left side, squeezed around a check, created space and set up one of his teammates for a Grade-A scoring chance.

You knew, right then, it could be one of those nights.

The UND sophomore defenseman showed why he might be the best player in college hockey Saturday night by scoring a dazzling goal in the first period, making a highlight-reel play to set up another in the second and finishing off a three-point night with another assist in the third.

UND completed a two-game sweep of Miami with a 5-4 victory in Goggin Ice Center in a game the Fighting Hawks largely dominated yet couldn't pull away because of a pesky RedHawks squad that was efficient on the power play.

Ashton Calder scored twice, while Sanderson, Tyler Kleven and Riese Gaber each added one goal for the Fighting Hawks, who won their fourth straight and swept Miami in Oxford for just the second time in seven chances.

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Sanderson, the first-round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators, was the most dominant player on the ice.

He had six points on the weekend and has 15 in 11 games this season. At the conclusion of UND's game, Sanderson ranked second in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in points, only behind Omaha forward Taylor Ward.

"He's probably the best player in college hockey," Gaber said. "I think you see that night in and night out. He's only 19 years old, but you'd think he's one of the oldest guys on our team. He's so mature. I think the biggest part about him is how humble he is. He can take over a game and he knows it. But it's a quiet confidence. He goes and does his work quietly and it shows."

Sanderson's first highlight-reel play came at 12:04 of the first period with UND leading 2-1.

He circled around the zone a couple of times, before giving up the puck. When he got it back, he wheeled across the zone again, gained some space and fired a shot past Miami goaltender Ludvig Persson to make it 3-1.

"I just sat there and laughed, honestly," Gaber said. "He's pretty special. I really didn't have words. I just sat on the bench and I was just laughing the whole time. It's impossible to defend and he did it like twice. It's effortless. It's so fun to watch. We need to find him a harder league or something."

In the second period, Sanderson did it again. He twisted and turned in the offensive zone to create space and eventually walked the puck to the net for a scoring chance. His shot was stopped, but Calder followed it up.

"Honestly, I was just trying to keep up with him," Calder said. "He was going in and out and around, and I was just trying to follow him to the net because maybe there was going to be a rebound. He got to the net and there was a rebound, so I just put it in there."

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Sanderson has already matched his point total from last season (15).

"There aren't many players that can do what he did tonight, and it was not just on one occasion," UND coach Brad Berry said. "He did it a few times tonight. When you play against man-on-man coverage, that allows you to be a little evasive. When you have a guy that can make plays and has elite skating ability. . . it was awesome and we needed that tonight."

Although Sanderson was the headliner, UND had several other notable performances.

Gaber once again scored against the RedHawks, a key power-play goal in the third period. He's played five games in his career against Miami and he's scored in all of them. Matteo Costantini had an assist to extend his point streak to five games. Calder had his third multi-goal game of the season and now has six points in his last three games.

UND dominated territorially and outshot Miami 36-15, but Miami's potent power play kept the RedHawks in it. Miami scored twice with the man advantage, including a five-on-three power-play goal.

Chase Pletzke, Michael Regush, Matthew Barbolini and P.J. Fletcher scored Miami's goals.

"I think good teams find a way to win," Gaber said. "It was bumpy at times. It's always going to be. There are always going to be highs and lows. I think the best teams learn to battle through that and face adversity and overcome it. I think we did a good job of that this weekend."

UND stayed unbeaten in league play. The Fighting Hawks improved to 8-3 overall and 4-0 in the NCHC, where they're trying to win a third-straight Penrose Cup.

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"It's so tough to sweep at home, let alone on the road," Berry said. "I just thought our guys felt it. There was a lot of energy in the locker room. Even when things went sideways a little bit in the second period, they regrouped in the third period and got it going again."

Notes: UND made one lineup change from Friday. Rookie defenseman Brent Johnson replaced forward Carson Albrecht as UND's 19th skater. Miami made just one change from Friday, moving forward Jack Olmstead in for John Sladic.

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UND forward Mark Senden chases after the puck Friday night against Miami in Goggin Ice Center. Photo by Bella Sagarese / Miami University Athletics

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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