In a do or die game 3 tonight for both North Dakota and Colorado College, the two teams were looking to advance to the inaugural NCHC Frozen Face-Off next weekend in Minneapolis.
As the puck dropped in the opening period, UND quickly would take control of the game pressuring the offensive zone early. Just over three and a half minutes into the contest UND would capitalize on an odd man rush to take an early 1-0 lead over the Tigers. What was strange about this you may ask? It was a 2 on 1 with Juniors Stephane Pattyn and Nick Mattson. Pattyn would take a low hard shot right off of the goalie's leg pads which kicked out a rebound right to Mattson. All he had to do then was shoot into the wide open net. UND wasn't finished there, but just three minutes after going up 1-0, CC would tie the game at 1.
On a night where UND's blue liners would contribute a lot, Freshman defender Troy Stecher would fire a laser past the CC goaltender to put UND up 2-1 just past the half way point in the first. The goal was Stecher's second of the season and would shift momentum back UND's way. A little over two minutes later, Pattyn was at it again except this time it would be him that would find the twine just a little over two minutes after the Stecher goal to make it 3-1. This is how the teams would go into the locker rooms at the end of the first and it looked as if UND was going to coast to the victory.
As the second period started, Colorado College came out flying. The Tigers controlled most of the play early on, and for most of the period for that matter. They were all over the puck and not letting North Dakota get too many extensive offensive zone chances. UND would clank a Brendan O'Donnell shot off the post, but that would be about it for them. Michael Morin would find the twine at 17:17 of the second to put them within one goal going into the third.
Things would shift back towards the way of North Dakota in the third, seeing offensive chances from people you necessarily wouldn't expect to see them from. Brendan O'Donnell would get revenge after hitting the post when he would score just two and a half minutes into the third to put UND up 4-2, and proved to be the eventual game winner. Things would get a little more physical and UND would finally get some power play time, but was virtually powerless on them. CC forward Alex Roos would bring the game to 4-3 with just a minute and a half left to cause a little drama in the Ralph, but UND would hold on to win and be the top seed going into Minneapolis next weekend.
The most impressive forward on the ice tonight had to be Junior Stephane Pattyn. His presence was definitely known whenever he would get a shift. Pattyn set the tone early tonight when he assisted on the games opening goal and then would get one of his own as well. Another surprise was that he was sprung on 2 breakaways in the third period. I can't ever remember him getting one in a game let alone two in a period. If anyone can prove me wrong, please do.
Brendan O'Donnell would score the game winner tonight and would move to 11-0-1 all time when he scores a goal. Maybe he is turning into what Mario Lamoureux used to be for UND whenever he scored. UND rarely lost when Lamoureux scored and still haven't when O'Donnell has. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect would have a game to remember leading into the NCHC Frozen Face-Off.
Goalie Zane Gothberg was impressive yet again, being the backbone to this UND victory. In his last 19 starts, including this one, Gothberg has allowed three goals in just three of those starts. Every other game in those 19 starts he has allowed two or fewer with two shutouts in that time. Up for goalie of the year in the NCHC, Gothberg looks to keep pushing this team forward as they head into the NCHC Frozen Face-Off and if they get their NCAA tourney bid.
Tonight would also mark the 13th time this season that UND would score four or more goals in a game. They are now 13-0-0 in their games in which they score four or more this season. They would also improve to 17-1-0 on the season when leading after two periods of play. This home playoff series is the 17th in a row which they have won. Their last home playoff series loss dates back to the 1995-1996 season when they lost to Wisconsin.
Looking ahead to next weekend, UND looks to win the very first Frozen Face-Off championship and lock themselves into the NCAA tournament. No official game times have been released as of yet, but UND is expected to get the night game Friday night, playing Miami, who in their last meeting UND would find the net 9 times against, with puck drop somewhere around 7:30 at the Target Center.