UND was protecting a one-goal lead against Minnesota Duluth with 90 seconds left Saturday night.

Sophomore defenseman Cooper Moore was on the ice.

That sight may have been unlikely last season — or in the first month of this season — but with star defenseman Jake Sanderson out of the lineup due to a non-COVID illness, Moore was called upon to play big minutes and key situations in UND's series against the Bulldogs.

Moore did his job. On that late-game shift, he chipped one puck out of the zone and helped UND secure the 2-1 victory, while solidifying his best personal weekend of the season.

"The Cooper Moore you saw this weekend was the Cooper Moore that we saw in prep hockey out East," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Then, he went and played in Chilliwack. When he's playing confident, he's a guy that can move pucks and that's assertive."

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Moore, a sophomore from Cos Cob, Conn., played on the second defensive pairing with Chris Jandric both nights against the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs.

He played well enough Friday that UND assistant coach Karl Goehring, in charge of running the team's power play, used Moore on the second power-play unit Saturday.

"He was snapping pucks around," Berry said. "He knew the next play. There were a couple times he got it and had to release it quick to the net. That's a big deal. He did that. Those were some of the attributes we saw (during recruiting) that we're starting to see now here. We had a lot of really good defensemen last year and he saw that. We have good defensemen this year and we think he's going to grow into that role. We think he's going to be a top offensive defenseman."

Moore, who has two assists this season, didn't have any points to show for it, but UND alternate captain Ethan Frisch, who played on the first defensive pairing with Tyler Kleven, said he was impressed by Moore's game.

"Talk about a guy who really stepped up," Frisch said. "Obviously, missing Sanderson and some other guys, we had to ask some other guys to step up. Both nights, even when we weren't playing well yesterday, he was a guy we could count on. He was playing really well, really reliable back there. I'm super proud of the way he played."

Berry said he hopes the weekend series will be something Moore can use as a building block as the season goes along.

"He benefitted from getting some minutes with Jake Sanderson out of the lineup," Berry said. "Jake plays close to 25 to 30 minutes a night. Those are a lot of minutes to disperse to other players and Cooper took a bunch of those minutes."