Well, it was one of those nights. Again.
For the second game in a row, UND struggled offensively. Let me put it another way: UND generated chances, scoring opportunities, and odd-man rushes, but did nothing more than chip some paint off the posts and crossbar.
The final shots on goal were UND 43, UW 24, including 25 Sioux shots in the third period alone. UND must have attempted 70 shots or more, with many blocked by Wisconsin or sent off target.
As Coach Hakstol mentioned in his post-game interview, the prevailing feeling was that if North Dakota could get one past Connelly, the floodgates would open. But it was not to be. The junior netminder stopped all 43 shots sent his way for his fifth career shutout in 22 games.
Even down 2-0 with 14 minutes to play, the ice seemed to be tilted in North Dakota’s favor. UND was winning the majority of the draws and getting to most of the loose pucks. The back-breaker goal happened after one of very few defensive zone face-offs for UND, a draw they lost, and the puck was in the back of the net for a 3-0 Wisconsin lead with 5:22 to go.
Bright spots for UND:
-North Dakota had exactly the start they needed. They controlled the opening period and took the crowd out of the game. Many in the press box remarked that the score could have been 3-0 UND after one.
-The Frattin-Zajac-Malone line clicked from the get-go. They added a physical presence, created offense, and drew penalties. Expect more from this line going forward.
-Freshman defenseman Derrick LaPoint and Jake Marto were paired together on the blue line for the second consecutive game, and handled their responsibilities very well.
It appeared as if North Dakota backed off the physical play after the first two penalties to Zach Jones. UND will need to crash the net and take the body tomorrow night if they expect a different result.
UND finished 0 for 5 with the man advantage, while Wisconsin scored once on three power play opportunities.
Wisconsin improves to 4-2-0 (2-1-0 WCHA), while North Dakota falls to 4-3-1 (2-3-0 WCHA). The same two teams battle tomorrow night at the Kohl Center. Incidentally, UND now has a 4-11-0 record at the Kohl Center.
For a comparison and complete preview of the weekend series, click here. I thank you for reading, and welcome your comments and suggestions.