By Brad Schlossman
DENVER — After Colton Poolman sniped the corner of the net from between the dots, he let out a yell, smiled and jogged on his skates to the corner.
Mark Senden was the first to greet him. Then, it was Grant Mismash and Adam Scheel. Soon, the whole team was in the corner mobbing Poolman as the legion of University of North Dakota fans that packed one end of Magness Arena roared and high-fived each other.
Technically, Friday’s game against No. 2-ranked Denver ended in a 1-1 tie.
But it had to feel every bit like a victory after UND grabbed an extra point in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings on Poolman’s goal in the three-on-three portion of overtime.
That’s especially the case for two big reasons.
No. 1: Magness Arena has been a House of Horrors for UND in recent years. The Fighting Hawks entered this weekend with one win in the last eight games in the place. They went 0-3-1 in Magness last season and had their season come to an end with a first-round National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoff series loss to the Pioneers.
“It seemed like last year our Achilles’ Heel was this place,” Poolman said.
No. 2: After missing the NCAA tournament for two years in a row, UND is starting to appear like one of the top teams in the country. The Fighting Hawks (7-1-2) backed that up by playing toe-to-toe with the No. 2 Pioneers in a building where Denver has lost just three of its last 25 games.
“We’re right there,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “It’s one of those things where it’s a new team, a new group, guys are finding their way and finding their roles. I really like the chemistry of our team and what our team is doing to build together here. Each game is different that we go into, but at the end of the day, they play a consistent brand of hockey that gives us a chance to win.
“We have to make sure we keep building. Tomorrow is a big game. We have to make sure we close it out tomorrow.”
— UND Insider (@UNDinsider) November 16, 2019
Two players in particular — neither of whom played in the playoff series last March — put on a show Friday.
For UND, it was Scheel.
The sophomore, who went down with a season-ending injury a month before the playoffs started, stopped 30 of 31 shots. It marked just the third time Scheel has been forced to stop more than 30 shots in a game in his college career.
He turned away six in the first, 14 in the second, nine in the third and two in overtime. Perhaps his best save came in the second period when he robbed Denver defenseman Ian Mitchell on a point-blank chance from in tight. That save prompted a huge roar from the UND section behind him.
“I thought he tracked the puck,” Berry said. “I thought he was good on his rebound control. There were some situations there in the second period, where pucks were laying in front of him a little bit. We’ve got to do a better job defending in front of him. He’ll stop that first one, but we’ve got to make sure that we don’t give them more opportunities at putting pucks in.”
For Denver, it was freshman goalie Magnus Chrona.
Last season, Swedish freshman goalie Filip Larsson had UND’s number. Larsson went 4-0-1 with a .973 save percentage and a sub-1.00 goals-against average against the Fighting Hawks. He signed with the Detroit Red Wings in the offseason, but his replacement — also a Swedish freshman goalie — was every bit as frustrating to get a puck past for UND.
Chrona stopped 37 of 38 shots for the Pioneers.
The lone UND goal came from sophomore forward Jasper Weatherby on a second-period power-play chance. It marked the third game in a row that Weatherby scored on the power play and the second time that he scored on a re-direct from high in the slot.
Jordan Kawaguchi, the reigning NCHC Forward of the Week, set up Weatherby’s tally.
“I just kind of want to try to find that open spot,” Weatherby said. “When you play with really good guys, sometimes you get the puck on your tape when you’re in a really good spot. Jordan Kawaguchi finds me, and we all know how good he is.”
Weatherby’s goal came at 10:58 of the second period and Denver’s answer — a Kohen Olischefski goal on a scramble in the crease — came less than a minute later.
Neither team scored again until the 3-on-3.
It wasn’t for a lack of chances, either.
Denver’s Emilio Pettersen had three Grade-A looks, but missed the net on two of them. He led the Pioneers with six shots on goal. Grant Mismash had five shots on goal to lead the Fighting Hawks.
“I thought the story of the night was that both goaltenders played an ‘A’ game,” Berry said. “The game was up for grabs.”
After a scoreless 5-on-5 overtime, the game went to 3-on-3 for an extra point in the standings.
UND converted when Weatherby carried the puck up the right side, cut to the middle of the ice and lost the puck in the slot. Pettersen overskated it, though, and Poolman quickly picked it up and sniped it past Chrona’s blocker.
“At the end of the day, it’s a tie,” Berry said. “But for us, it’s more of a win getting the extra point and having that feeling of winning a game.
“As we go on, and get to the national tournament if we’re fortunate enough to make the national tournament, you’re playing overtime games. You have to have a killer instinct and mentality, instead of just saying, hey, hang on for the point. You’ve got to get that feeling early. And you’ve got to get that feeling of trying to win games in overtime. And I thought our guys did a good job of that and having a killer instinct.”
— UND Insider (@UNDinsider) November 16, 2019
UND 1, DENVER 1
UND gets extra point in NCHC standings on 3×3 goal
First period — No scoring
Second period — 1. UND, Jasper Weatherby 3 (Jordan Kawaguchi 11, Matt Kiersted 7) 10:58 (pp); 2. DU, Kohen Olischefski 4 (Slava Demin 2) 11:55
Third period — No scoring
Overtime — No scoring
Three-on-three overtime — UND, Colton Poolman (Weatherby) 3:22
Penalties — Matt Kiersted, UND, holding, 1:32 first; Brett Edwards, DU, slashing, 9:20 first; Bench minor, DU, too many on ice, 16:09 first; Ian Mitchell, DU, tripping, 10:47 second; Westin Michaud, UND, slashing, 13:26 second; Gavin Hain, UND, goaltender interference, 17:29 second; Tyson McLellan, DU, slashing, 17:57 second; Bench minor, DU, too many on ice, 1:21 third; Ethan Frisch, UND, tripping, 5:13 third
Goalie saves — UND: Adam Scheel 6-13-9-2 — 30; DU: Magnus Chrona 9-15-9-4 — 37
Penalties-minutes — UND 4-8, DU 5-10
Power plays — UND 1-5, DU 0-4
Attendance — 6,056
Referees — Geno Binda and Brian Aaron
Linesmen — Bob Keltie and Chase McGee