UND wins overtime thriller over Colorado College
For a moment in the third period, UND had to wonder: What did it do to deserve this fate?
It was losing another game it had dominated.
It was 15 minutes away from its eighth loss this season when outshooting an opponent by double digits. No other National Collegiate Hockey Conference team has three such losses.
And this one would have had the bitter, lasting image attached to it of UND transfer Chris Wilkie popping his Colorado College jersey to fans in the front row at Ralph Engelstad Arena after scoring the go-ahead goal for the Tigers.
"Our whole bench was kind of like, 'We're not losing this,'" UND forward Ludvig Hoff said. "Especially after what happened last weekend. That's kind of been in the back of our heads ever since that Saturday game."
Instead of another perplexing loss, UND sent the 11,094 in Ralph Engelstad Arena home after a thrilling, much-needed 4-3 overtime victory over Colorado College.
Jordan Kawaguchi scored the game-tying goal with 5:46 to go in the third period and Ludvig Hoff won it with 44.8 seconds left in overtime by re-directing a Jacob Bernard-Docker point shot into the corner of the net.
The entire UND team piled off the bench with excitement and relief to win the series opener.
"It was huge for a lot of different reasons," said UND coach Brad Berry, who also received goals from Nick Jones and Andrew Peski. " First off, getting back in the win column. Second of all, climbing the standings in the NCHC and trying to get home ice. Pairwise, it's a huge thing. But I think first and foremost is the morale of the group here. You're working hard all year and you don't get rewarded sometimes on the offensive side of the game. We got rewarded tonight."
— UND Insider (@undinsider) January 12, 2019
UND (10-9-1 overall, 4-5 NCHC) outshot Colorado College 47-23—a lopsided shot disparity that has been fairly routine for this Fighting Hawks team. They've outshot opponents by double digits in 14 of 20 games this season (70 percent), but it hasn't always led to success.
A week earlier at Canisius, the Fighting Hawks outshot the Golden Griffins 82-30 for the weekend but lost twice.
On Friday night, UND appeared headed for that same fate after Colorado College forwards Erik Middendorf and Wilkie scored back-to-back goals in the span of 1:10 at the start of the third period to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
"Honestly, it felt a little different than the few games before that," Kawaguchi said. "We just felt a little more confident. We thought, 'Hey, we've been in this situation before. Let's just go to work and battle.' We're happy it worked out for us."
On the tying goal, UND forced the Tigers to stay on the ice for nearly two minutes because of sustained pressure and it eventually ended in a Fighting Hawks goal. Jones (two points) launched a one-timer from the right circle that Kawaguchi tipped past Tiger goalie Alex Leclerc (43 saves) from the top of the crease.
"I don't know if Nick's shot would have gone in or not," Kawaguchi said. "I just went to the net with my stick on the ice. It's something the coaches have been harping on this week a lot—just getting to the dirty areas with our stick on the ice and the goals will come."
After generating numerous chances in overtime, UND got the winner with another tip.
Bernard-Docker had the puck at the right point and wound up to take a slap shot. With two Tiger defenders in the lane ready to block the shot, Bernard-Docker pulled the puck toward his body to change the angle and sent it toward the slot.
Hoff was standing in the high slot and tipped it out of mid-air high into the corner of the far side of the net.
"I was just happy," Hoff said of seeing the puck go in the net. "I just wanted to hug the guys and kind of celebrate. Obviously, it's a big win for us, but as we talked about in the locker room already, we're not happy right now. We need two wins."
Kawaguchi added: "Obviously, it turned out well for us. We got the win, but obviously, not the way we wanted. We gave up a two-goal lead. But at the end of the day, we got the win and that's what matters."
UND moved up one spot to No. 20 in the Pairwise Rankings with the win, but much work remains to get into contention to make the 16-team NCAA tournament field. UND will play the series finale at 7:07 tonight in Ralph Engelstad Arena with the UND's 1959 NCAA national championship team on hand.
"We have to have a mindset that we're not satisfied," Berry said. "We've got to keep moving forward here. And we've got to remind ourselves that each and every day is a battle and we've got to keep moving."