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College men's hockey: North Dakota buries penalty shot to beat Bulldogs in OT

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Minnesota Duluth may have played one of its best defensive games of the season Friday against one of college hockey's most potent offenses.

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North Dakota's Troy Stecher (center) and Luke Johnson try to break away from UMD's Alex Iafallo (center left) and Kyle Osterberg during the first period of Friday's game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. (Joshua Komer / Forum News Service)

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Minnesota Duluth may have played one of its best defensive games of the season Friday against one of college hockey’s most potent offenses.

An unfortunate series of events in overtime, however, marred that effort.

North Dakota sophomore wing Austin Poganski beat Bulldogs sophomore goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo on a penalty shot with a backhander to give the Fighting Hawks a 2-1 OT victory on Friday at Ralph Engelstad Arena and maintain a first-place tie with St. Cloud State atop the NCHC.

Poganski was awarded the penalty shot after UMD junior defenseman Carson Soucy took out the Hawks’ third-line wing on a breakaway to the visiting net. Soucy took Poganski out from the side as the two raced parallel to the net and before Poganski could get a shot off.

UMD coach Scott Sandelin - whose team started overtime with a two-minute power play that generated three shots on goal - didn’t agree with the decision by NCHC referee Todd Anderson to award the Hawks a penalty shot.

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“I don’t agree with the call at the end. It was a penalty, but I don’t agree with the penalty shot at all,” Sandelin said. “I don’t care if that gets me in trouble. It certainly was a penalty and they capitalized. We had our opportunities, they had their opportunities. It was a good hard-fought battle.”

The NCAA rulebook agrees with Sandelin, listing, “The infraction must have been committed from behind,” as one of the four “specific conditions that must be met in order for the Referee to award a penalty shot for a player being fouled from behind.”

UMD junior defenseman Willie Raskob - whose attempt at a game-winning shot late in the third period caught iron - lost a battle along the boards in the Hawks zone to create the breakaway by Poganski. Sandelin also thought freshman wing Parker Mackay could have attacked the net or threw the puck down low just prior to the Raskob turnover.

Sandelin said Soucy did exactly what he needed to do on the Poganski breakaway, which was come across the rink and lay down on the ice, tripping Poganski from the side.

“I’m not sure how he called a penalty shot on it,” Sandelin said. “I thought our guys played hard. We came in here, it’s a tough building to win in. We knew they were going to come out hard after losing two games. We got to come back with the same effort and, hopefully, (today) the players can decide it.”

The Hawks tied the game at 1-1 midway through the second period via a snipe by Hawks fourth-line wing Coltyn Sanderson. He got a clean break on Kaskisuo after a hard and hot Bulldogs shot missed the net. Sanderson got the puck after a linesman got in the way of Raskob, foiling his attempt to pick up a loose puck.

Breakaways like Sanderson’s and Poganski’s were North Dakota’s best scoring chances all night, and even those were hit and miss thanks to UMD defenders.

Senior defenseman and captain Andy Welinski of Duluth broke up one breakaway and freshman defenseman Neal Pionk of Hermantown broke up two, including a 2-on-1.

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“I thought we played well. We weathered the storm when they came after us,” Pionk said. “We blocked some shots, Kas made some big saves. Our forwards played well defensively. We need to come up with the same plan tomorrow night.”

The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead on a power play late in the first period when junior center Dominic Toninato used the shaft of his stick to redirect a shot from junior Alex Iafallo downward. The puck bounced up and over goalie Cam Johnson to snap the Hawks’ streak of 20-straight penalty kills.

Two months ago when the Bulldogs and Hawks met in Duluth, UMD went 0-for-9 on the man-advantage and Johnson stopped all 78 shots he faced in the two-game series, leading his team to a pair of 3-0 victories.

“We got one at the start there, which is always nice when you can get a power-play goal,” Toninato said. “You want to try and win that special teams battle throughout the game. That was good. The other power plays we generated momentum.

“We played a really good game, the whole team played well. It was just unfortunate it came out like that.”

  • UMD, Nebraska-Omaha and Miami are all tied for the final NCHC home-ice playoff spot in fourth place.

  • Areas around Ralph Engelstad Arena were blocked off Friday afternoon prior to the game while the University of North Dakota Police Department investigated a bomb threat at the construction site of the university’s new medical school, which is located less than a half mile from the arena. No bomb was found on the site and the game was not delayed because of the threat.

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North Dakota's Chris Wilkie (right) and UMD's Austyn Young fight for possession of the puck during the first period of Friday's game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. (Joshua Komer / Forum News Service)

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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