Saturday, January 31, 2015

North Dakota Edges UNO 4-3 in Overtime To Earn a Weekend Split

Game two of the weekend hockey series between #1 North Dakota and #5 UNO was every bit the equal of Friday night's 3-2 overtime game that UNO won...except tonight, it was North Dakota who led most of the night. Starting just 37 seconds into the game, to be exact.  Each time North Dakota scored, UNO found an answer at some point, with Brian Cooper getting the final game-tying goal with just 3:44 left in the third period.

As was the case much of the night, North Dakota controlled the play in overtime and buried the game-winner 2:04 into the overtime to give North Dakota the victory and the series split. For the season, UNO won one game, North Dakota won two, and a fourth game was officially a tie, with UNO winning the shootout.  Very much an even much so, that folks can't wait for these two teams to meet up again:

Certainly a rematch is possible in Minneapolis at the NCHC Frozen Final.  But that's for down the line... Tonight, my takeaway from this weekend is that UNO hockey is fully capable of playing with anybody and everybody. When the polls come out next week, UNO shouldn't drop. Not when #6 Bowling Green lost and tied Bemidji State and #7 Minnesota-Duluth split with #11 Denver.  UNO currently sits in a tie for third in the Pairwise rankings with Boston University, trailing Mankato and North Dakota.

And that's an amazing thing when you realize that this is a team mostly comprised of freshmen and sophomores.  Tonight's UNO hero was sophomore Jake Guentzel; last night's was sophomore Austin Ortega. Freshmen scored two goals last night.  The only seniors making major contributions are Dominic Zombo and goalie Ryan Massa.  Massa has been magical all season long, and he was outstanding tonight.  Zombo left tonight's game after a very chippy first period.

Simply put...this is only just the beginning. Something very special is happening around UNO hockey.  The snowstorm kept tonight's crowd down, but it still drew 10,674...and only about 1,000 of those were North Dakota fans. A lot of people reintroduced themselves to UNO hockey this weekend, and they have to be impressed with what they saw.

They're probably disappointed by what happened tonight. They should be disappointed by the final score.

They should be excited about what the future holds.

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