NCHC Roundup: WMU, North Dakota, Miami Take Game 1s
Denver Staves Off Elimination
CHN Staff Report
When Western Michigan scored an empty netter with 1:42 remaining for a 3-0 lead, it didn't think it would be in another one-goal game. But that's what it got.
UMD scored 12 seconds later, then with 16 seconds left in regulation to make it close. But WMU held on for a Game 1 win in the teams' best-of-3 quarterfinal series, one of three lower seeds to win NCHC playoff games Saturday.
"We've been in a lot of tight games. I don't feel good," WMU coach Andy Murray said. "I'd just as soon the score was 5-0 for us. I'm used to having my heart in my throat all the time. That's the way our team seems to play.
"I don't know when you're supposed to feel good in this business — usually when the season is over."
Colton Hargrove had given the Broncos a 2-0 lead just 25 seconds into the third period, which gave them some breathing room.
"We know that Duluth just skates so well, puts you under so much pressure," Murray said. "We wanted to have the puck a bit tonight too, and we did.
"I think we can manage the puck better. We had a couple defensemen who were below average. We need better puck movement on their part, and they got us in some trouble. ... But we created a lot of chances."
It had been two months and 16 games since sophomore Bryn Chyzk last scored a goal. But his goal Friday was the game winner as North Dakota defeated Colorado College, 4-2, in Game 1. Chyzyk pounced on an errant clearing pass by the Tigers and unleashed a one-time rocket at 18:07 of the second period to give his team its first lead of the game and pave the way to victory.
"I kind of saw the play developing, and I knew it (the pass) was going to the guy's skates," Chyzk said. "I thought he was going to kick it, but it kind of slipped through. It was a gift, so I took it."
UND had to dig itself out of a 2-0 deficit early. It didn't have a shot on goal until 6:28 of the opening period, and nearly went down 3-0 on a breakaway chance by CC's Jeff Collett. But Collett was stripped from behind by UND defenseman Jordan Schmaltz.
UND turned the play the other way in a hurry, and Drake Caggiula buried his 10th goal of the season short side high off right wing at 12:11 to chop CC's lead in half.
"There are different points to this game you can point to that are critical points," UND coach Dave Hakstol said, "but it's small plays within a game that add up to be big plays. ... We weren't ready to play off the drop of the puck, but we fought our way back to get it within one goal, even though nothing was coming easy."
The line of Mark MacMillan centering Caggiula and Michael Parks combined for two goals and three assists to break out of a mini-slump.
"I thought we did a good job battling back," Caggiula said. "I think it was mostly nerves. We have a lot of young guys on the team. First playoff series, it could be nerves. We'll definitely be better tomorrow."
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Denver routed Nebraska-Omaha, 5-1, to force a Game 3 of their series.
Freshmen Evan Janssen and Trevor Moore each scored second-period goals, and senior goalie Sam Brittain finished with 30 saves.
"We were very confident going into the game,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said. “Sam (Brittain) had to be great early, I think UNO outplayed us in the first period, our forecheck and our back pressure wasn’t very good but Sam made some great saves on a couple two-on-ones and a breakaway and we managed to shift the momentum after that.”
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Miami's Riley Barber scored on a rebound in overtime to give the RedHawks a 5-4 upset win over top-seeded St. Cloud State in Game 1 of the best-of-3 quarterfinal series.
In what's been a surprisingly-dismal season for Miami, finishing last after being picked to finish first in the NCHC's inaugural season, the RedHawks were poised for another round of heartache when the Huskies scored as time expired in regulation to force overtime.
Blake Coleman, who has been a hero for Miami down the stretch, took a penalty with just under 10 seconds remaining. Off the faceoff, somehow the Huskies got it to the front of the net as the clock wound down, and Kevin Gravel's one-timer went in as the horn sounded.
St. Cloud State seemed to have the better of play in overtime, but it just took the one good chance by Barber. It came at 10:10 and was Barber's 19th of the season, and it came against Charlie Lindgren, who had replaced Ryan Faragher in the third period. Faragher was pulled after allowing Sean Kuraly's goal, which put Miami up 4-3 at the time, with 8:54 remaining in regulation.