Saturday, November 03, 2012

North Dakota bites Terriers 4-2.

Originally posted at the Hockey Writers - Combine.

Grand Forks, ND – Earlier this week, Ben Rosen tweeted upon arriving in Grand Forks, “just landed in North Dakota… nothing out here but 4 points.”  That’s not going to happen because UND took game one from the Terriers 4-2.

After the game Rocco Grimaldi was asked about the tweet in question.
“I don’t know, I guess they can say what they want, Grimaldi said.  “Obviously, it’s a little added motivation, I know I retweeted it because it’s something that I look at – we all saw it – we want four points – so obviously I wouldn’t want any of our guys on our team saying that. That’s what social media does, you can say things you want and get blasted for it and I know how that goes, it’s not that big of deal and he can say what he wants I guess that’s fine.”

It had been a long time since the University of North Dakota had last played BU in Grand Forks.

How long you ask?

The last time the two teams played a series at the “old” Ralph Englestad Arena in Grand Forks; Chris Drury was a member of the Boston University Terriers (December 26th & 27th, 1996).

UND would go on to win 6-4 and tie 2-2 against the Terriers in an exciting two game series.  The two teams would play again during the final game of the 1997 NCAA Frozen Four where UND would again win 6-4.

Since the 1996-1997 season UND has a 3-2-1 record against the Terriers.

Make that 4-2-1 after UND’s win tonight.

Over the fifteen year period, UND and BU played to some great games along the way and tonight was no different, as the game was a hard fought contest from start to finish.

Boston University came out of the gate pretty hard and took the play to UND and got a lot of chances early. The Terriers took an early lead on goal by Danny O’Reagan at the 16:52 mark of the first period.

UND junior goalie Clarke Saunders would keep UND in the game as BU was pressing and he made some big saves when UND needed him to early in the game.

After coughing up an early lead, sophomore walk-on forward Connor Gaarder would go on a tear as he started the scoring for UND early in the second period at the 01:11 mark.

But Gaarder wasn’t done – he scored two more goals – one more in the second period and then added the game winning goal in the third period after BU freshman Ahti Oksanen (Kirkhonummi, Finland) had tied game in the second period on the power play with a goal while UND was killing a five minute power play.

 That was all the scoring that the Terriers would get as the UND forward kept the Terriers pinned in their own end.

If you had over looked or are unfamiliar with Connor Gaarder, he is a walk-on player that committed to UND after J.T. Miller de-committed from the University of North Dakota during the 2011 summer. Last season, Gaarder played in 33 games for UND and scored  (4g-6a—10pts). This season, Gaarder is off to a great start and is second on the team in points with (3g-2a—5pts).

During the postgame press conference, Connor Gaarder came out holding onto a Vancouver Canucks hat that was thrown on the ice by one of the 11, 589 fans after the scored his third goal of the game.

“I got my pick of one hat, so I got that here and I will see if I like any others,” Gaarder said. “I got this for Knighter [Corbin Knight], I probably give that to Knighter… he is a big Canucks fan.”

This was Connor Gaarder’s take on getting a hat trick in tonight’s game.

“It felt good,” Gaarder said. “BU is a great team, nice to get the win tonight, it was a big battle and were looking forward to tomorrow night and we’re going to have to match the intensity.”

UND head coach Dave Hakstol was impressed with his walk-on’s effort tonight.

“He’s a good hockey player,” Hakstol said.  “He goes to those hard areas – he’s not the only one that played a good hockey game tonight – but obviously he was a key player – that’s the type of player he is, he’s just a hockey player – he’s a gritty kid that goes to those greasy areas. Coming off of probably not his best game Saturday night he had a good week of practice and he carried it over to a good game tonight.”

UND also dodged a bullet when they had to kill a five minute major penalty that lead to BU’s power play goal. Head coach Dave Hakstol said that he was pleased that they only gave up one goal on the five minute major to Captain Andrew MacWilliam.

BU head coach Jack Parker thought that his team took too many penalties and it wore them down.

“Really exciting game obviously,” Parker said. “There was a lot of great chances. I thought the penalties wore us down as the game progressed. We got the five minute major on the power play and I got the feeling some of the calls might go the other way for them once they gave us a five minute major. I thought we just had to kill too many penalties the game winning goal was on a five on three; they had other really good chances though too. I thought as the game progress we got a little tired, it seemed to me a couple of time we killed penalties on them, just as the penalty was over we got our fifth on the ice or sixth skater on the ice and we never got out of the zone for another thirty seconds or forty seconds we really struggled with that so we made a couple of mistakes with the pucks that kept them alive and kept them alive and that kind of just wore us out. We didn’t generate much offense the second half of the game.”

The same two teams play tonight, but only one team has a chance at “4” points.