Roundup: Western Michigan Sweeps Miami
North Dakota, Duluth Also Complete Perfect Weekends
CHN Staff Report
Yet another shorthanded goal, this one from Chase Balisy early in the game, helped Western Michigan overcome two Riley Barber goals in a 3-2 win, capping a weekend sweep. WMU had two shorthanded goals, including the game winner with eight seconds left, in Friday's game.
“We had a real gutsy performance by our team," Broncos coach Andy Murray said. "Both teams played so very hard this weekend, someone had to win and we were fortunate we got the job done but a lot of determination. We need to be a little bit smarter. We took some unnecessary penalties and that is my responsibility and we will talk about that. Our penalty kill was outstanding obviously and we tested it way too much tonight and tested it way too much last night. We certainly need to play with a lot more discipline."
"We have a lot of players in my opinion who can play a lot better than they played here this weekend and we need to notch it up because we are going in to play a top three team at St. Cloud next weekend, it is a challenge and every one of our remaining games this season will be tough. We have to be ready.”
Western Michigan has been seeing steady improvement over the course of the season, but Murray is sticking to the "one game at a time" motif.
“Every game stands as its own," Murray said. "I don’t like coaches that say we have got momentum because what is momentum, is it something that you give to somebody? You have to go out and establish your credibility in every game and we have played solid hockey. We look at the Michigan State series and we played solid hockey, we played North Dakota real hard even though we lost both games 3-2 but I thought we played real hard. We went to Duluth and played real consistent hard all weekend, didn’t get the saves from our goaltenders we needed but we played hard and went into the GLI and our game was good. Our game was good here this weekend and obviously here tonight we came out real strong and we got ourselves in penalty trouble, we have to be a lot more focused on reducing the number of penalties we take and our power play by the same token we have to do a better job on it.”
Balisy's shorthanded score led the way. He had five points on the weekend.
“That is huge, any weekend you can get six points you are going to move up the standings pretty quickly and we moved up a couple spots this weekend for sure,” Balisy said.
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North Dakota defeated Colorado College, 3-2, to complete a sweep of the weekend and run its winning streak to seven games, the longest current streak in the nation.
Colorado College dropped to 0-10-1 on the road this season.
Rookie defenseman Keaton Thompson threated a shot through traffic to tie the game for North Dakota at 6:16 of the third period. Just 124 seconds later, UND sophomore center Rocco Grimaldi pounced on a CC turnover in front of its own net to score the game-winning goal at 8:20, Grimaldi's seventh goal of the year. Senior Derek Rodwell forced the turnover that led to Grimaldi's winning goal with a strong forecheck in the CC zone.
"It was good that he stayed on that guy (defenseman Gustav Olofsson), kind of made the guy panic and throw it into me," Grimaldi said. "So that was a great play by him. I thought he was a workhorse all night."
Said UND coach Dave Hakstol: "I think it was the first bounce we got all weekend after putting a lot of rubber to the net."
CC blocked 22 shots after blocking 30 UND attempts Friday.
"I think guys are more comfortable now, guys are getting pucks deep and not worrying about making mistakes," Grimaldi said. "I think that's the biggest thing. It's just guys playing with clear minds and working hard."
UND, for the first time in a while, didn't have a single player missing this week because of injuries. Mark MacMillan is one of the players injured previously who is making a big impact now. He had a goal each night this weekend, both from speed rushes off the wing.
"I think we're starting to see maybe what we were missing for that time span when he was out, with two speed goals," Hakstol said.
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Denver rebounded from Friday's loss with a 5-2 win to split with St. Cloud State. Five different players scored goals for the Pioneers. Sophomore Quentin Shore led the way for the Pioneers offensively as he finished the night with a team-best three points (1 goal, 2 assists).
“We played 60 minutes tonight,” Denver coach Jim Montgomery said. “The great thing is we wanted to see our team respond and as a whole, we responded great. Our forwards dominated the game tonight with their work ethic and physicality. Guys like Matt Tabrum and Grant Arnold were fantastic tonight. I could go through the whole lineup. They’re doing great things, and that’s what we need to do.”
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Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Aaron Crandall stopped 52 shots in a 3-1 win as the Bulldogs swept Nebraska-Omaha. The Bulldogs earned their first sweep of the season to improve to 9-8-1 overall and 5-5-0 in the NCHC, while the Mavericks dipped to 8-11-1 overall and 5-4-1-1 in the league while losing their fourth straight game. It was the first game for UNO since the return of coach Dean Blais and defenseman Jaycob Megna, who were serving three-game suspensions.
"We'll be OK," Blais said. "After the Christmas break, it's like everything's starting all over again. Everyone's a little rusty. ... As a coach, you have to look to build on what you did well. We played all parts of the game well.
"We talk about getting points every weekend, and we lost six of them this weekend. But is it enough to panic? No. ... It's like that Saturday game against Cornell (early in the season, a loss in which UNO heavily outshot the Big Red) and then we went on a tear. And that's what we're planning to do again.
"They did execute. But a good goaltender is going to beat a good shooter now and then."