North Dakota Pulling Together
by Virg Foss/Staff Writer
Karma by one definition pertains to the cycle of cause and effect.
It certainly was demonstrated by UND junior defenseman Andrew MacWilliam as UND beat Wisconsin 4-2 to complete a sweep of the Badgers at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
MacWilliam appeared to most of the 11,898 fans at REA to have been tripped from behind late in the first period, his takedown by Wisconsin's Keegan Meuer at 19:15 freeing Meuer to score the tying goal for a 1-1 standoff.
No penalty was called on the play, though. UND went to the dressing room tied instead of leading 1-0 on the 14th goal of the season by junior right wing Danny Kristo 10 seconds earlier on a perfect feed from sophomore wing Brock Nelson on a power play.
But just 125 seconds into the second period, MacWilliam unleashed a howitzer from 75 feet out along the left wall, halfway between the center red line and the Badger blue line.
The rocket sailed past Wisconsin goalie Joel Rumpel just under the crossbar on the short side, giving UND a 2-1 lead.
"The first thing we said when I scored that goal was. 'that's karma,' '' MacWilliam said. "I guess I got it back, so I came out even.''
UND came out far better than even for the night and the weekend. The sweep avenged a Badger sweep of UND earlier in the season in Madison and also ran UND's record to 11-3-1 in the last 15 games. UND is 15-10-2 overall and 11-9 in the WCHA with eight league games remaining.
It was UND's first sweep of Wisconsin in Grand Forks since 2002 and UND's first league sweep since beating Alaska Anchorage in early December.
UND was better than the Badgers in almost every aspect. UND outshot UW 41-22 overall, outshot them in every period and despite scoring just once in six power-play tries, mustered 16 shots on the power play in a strong performance.
Wisconsin's John Ramage tied the game at 2-2 midway through the second period, but UND sophomore wing Michael Parks scored his second goal in two nights, this one the game winner.
Parks slammed in his own rebound at 15:21 of the second period for a 3-2 lead, the goal his sixth of the season.
Nelson slammed in a centering feed from linemate Corban Knight at 6:30 of the third period to wrap up the scoring. The goal was Nelson's 19th of the season, tops on the team.
MacWilliam shrugged off the play that turned against UND late in the first period and turned it around with his wicked shot to start the second. "It happens,'' MacWilliam said. "They (officials) obviously didn't see it and didn't make the call. We just had to forget it between periods and regroup. That's what we did. We came out with a hard effort the rest of the game.''
UND was strong defensively, limiting Badger standouts Justin Schultz and Mark Zengerle, two of the national scoring leaders, to just one assist each on the weekend.
In contrast, UND's top line of Knight, Kristo and Nelson combined for two goals and three assists tonight to supplant the unexpected goal from MacWilliam and the hustle tally by Parks.
Senior defenseman Ben Blood chipped in with two assists and sophomore defenseman Derek Forbort one assist as the blue line offensive contributions extended past MacWilliam.
Nelson, named the game's No. 1 star by the media, cited MacWilliam's goal as a turning point. "That was definitely huge,'' Nelson said.
UND, jockeying for position in the upper division of the WCHA standings, got the sweep it needed to remain in the hunt for home ice for the league playoffs.
"A needed result,'' is how UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "We knew coming in we had to sit with this result for two weeks.'' UND has a bye next weekend.
"So we wanted to make sure we put forth our best effort out on the ice tonight,'' Hakstol said. "I thought we did that, from top to bottom. We had to grind out the first two periods again. We came out of that with a one-goal lead. I thought we played an outstanding third period.
"We kept our foot on the gas, we pushed pucks, we took away time and space and I don't think we gave up a Grade A (scoring) opportunity against.''
It all added up an impressive sweep for UND, which won Friday's game 5-3 by scoring the go-ahead goal with under two minutes left and adding an empty-net goal to clinch it.
Hakstol chose his words carefully regarding the goal by MacWilliam after his misfortune in the first period allowed Wisconsin to tie it.
"Maybe things have a way of evening out,'' Hakstol said. "I guess that's all I'll say. Obviously MacWilliam has been working on his shot.''