Sunday, January 13, 2013

Walk-on’s goal leads UND to victory over C.C.

UND forward Mitch MacMillan
Eric Classen, UND Sports
Grand Forks, ND – Last night, the University of North Dakota ended their seven game unbeaten streak with a 4-3 loss to the Colorado College Tigers.  The Tigers on the other hand stopped a horrendous seven game winless streak.

Upon arriving at the arena, it appeared that UND head coach Dave Haksol was not pleased with his line up from the previous night.  There were major changes to the lineup from the night before.

One might say, that a message was being sent to the players.

UND senior defenseman Joe Gleason was moved from defense to the fourth line. Freshman goalie Zane Gothberg replaced starting goaltender Clarke Saunders in net. Sophomore forward Connor Gaarder was a healthy scratch.  Freshman Colton St. Clair was also a spectator from the stands as well.

The moves appeared to have worked out for UND.

In the previous game, Tigers had the upper hand on UND for most of the night and the Green and White had trouble generating much in the way of offense. It appeared that UND was just a bit off their game and they were getting beat to the puck by the Tigers most of the night.

This sluggishness would follow UND into the first period of tonight’s game as well.

The Tigers would draw first blood with a goal from senior forward Scott Winkler at the 03:13 mark of the first period.

UND didn’t panic and scored the equalizer at the 05:17 mark of the first period with a goal from Danny Kristo. With that goal, Kristo extended his scoring streak to seven games. Assisting on Kirsto’s goal was Mitch MacMillan and Derek Forbort.

The Tigers would get another goal from Scott Winkler to take their last lead of the game.

UND would tie the game with a goal from senior forward Joe Gleason on the power play at the 08:02 mark of the second period. Assisting on Gleason’s goal was Corban Knight and Dillon Simpson. With the assist tonight, Knight extended his point streak to 17 games. Knight is now starting to enter in to uncharted water. Knight is now tied with former UND forward Brandon Bochenski’s 2002-03 for 10th all-time longest point streaks. The last player from UND to record an 18 game point streak was Dixon Ward during the 1990-91 season.

Then the momentum started to turn in the second period, in UND’s favor. UND would finally get its first lead of the weekend at the 13:22 mark of the second period with a goal from junior forward Mitch MacMillan. That lead would be short lived, as the Tigers would even the score at the 05:13 mark of the third period with a goal form Rylan Schwartz.

Kristo had this to say on the swing of momentum in the second period.

“Pretty much playing desperate hockey,” Kristo said. “It was an unacceptable first period – four shots on net – losing in our home building – after we lost last night.  Pretty much said guys, you know what we have to step up – this is unacceptable – started getting puck deep. Started getting our grind game going a little bit, getting pucks to the net.”

The game winning goal would come from an unlikely hero. Dan “Jim” Senkbeil a walk-on and a fan favorite, would score the game winning goal at the 07:45 mark of the third period when he banged home a loose puck in the Colorado College crease sending the crowd of 11,915 into a wild frenzy. Assisting on Jim’s goal was Danny Kristo and Nick Mattson.

After the game, Senkbeil was all smiles; the sophomore forward had gone from being a healthy scratch earlier in the year to scoring the game winning goal at a critical time.

“It was a great shot by Dan [Kristo],” Senkbeil said. “A great initial shot by [Jordan] Smaltz and my eyes kind of lit up when the puck was in the crease and I just tried to pound it home.”

At the 18:54 mark of the third period, Danny Kristo would ice the game with an empty netter from center ice.

UND forward Mitch MacMillan
Eric Classen, UND Sports
Another player got his first goal of his career at UND.
Mitch MacMillan the transfer student from Saint Cloud State scored a goal and an assist and played on the first line with Danny Kristo and Corban Knight for most of the night. One could say that MacMillan’s college career has come full circle.

At Saint Cloud, MacMillan had a hard time cracking the lineup. MacMillan has now been playing in the top nine forward positions, since he became eligible, after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules.

“They’re really special players and you know you have to take the most of an opportunity to play with them,” MacMillan said.  “I thought we had a good game tonight.”
After a slow start to the game, head coach Dave Hakstol seem pleased with his team’s effort to gut out a win against the Tigers.

“We trying hard in the first period but not a lot was happening or going our direction,” Hakstol said. “We were creating a whole lot and it was really hard to create any energy. I thought in the second period it was nothing major in terms of a major change. It was just one good shift after the next and slowly we built the momentum. So, maybe some of the chemistry was part of that. But I think it was just more the guy’s determination.”

With the win Tonight, UND is 5-3-3 when the opposition scores the first goal.

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