Western Michigan Shuts Down North Dakota for Split
by Virg Foss/Staff Writer
GRAND FORKS, N.D. North Dakota hoped to use last weekend's win against Boston College in New York City to power itself into the holiday break. After a convincing win Friday against Westerm Michigan, that looked hopeful. But the Broncos recovered Saturday to stymie ND, 3-1.
UND was 0-for-6 on the power play, despite generating 13 shots on goal in spending more than half of the third period on power plays. Thanks to a pair of 5-minute majors on the Broncos and a couple of minors, UND was unable to cash in once in 10 minutes, 35 seconds of power play time in the final period.
As a result, UND lost to the Broncos for only the second time in 18 all-time meetings.
Philadelphia Flyers draftee Wade Allison scored twice for the Broncos, including the first goal of the game. The freshman right wing then scored the game-winner at 12:38 of the third period, exactly on minute after WMU killed a 5-minute major and game DQ on Taylor Fleming for checking from behind.
The Broncos had to kill 3 minutes, 35 seconds of a UND power play to open the third period after a 5-minute major for kneeing on Fleming late in the second period.
UND was playing with two NHL first-round picks in sophomore Brock Boeser (wrist injury) and freshman Tyson Jost (in Canada's World Junior training camp), but inconsistent play throughout the lineup was just as big of a culprit tonight.
"We can be the best team in the nation if we want to,'' sophomore forward Joel Janatuinen said. "Right now, we kind of want to and that's not good enough.''
UND outshot WMU 21-7 in the last period, but struggled mightly to set up quality chances on the multiple power plays.
"Our entries weren't clean and as far as going up and down the ice, we didn't sustain a lot of time in the zone,'' UND coach Brad Berry said. "And when you going up and down and spending a lot of energy, I thought we got a lot of pucks blocked and didn't get the net front. We didn't execute how we should of.''
And that lack of execution started early in the game, Berry said.
"I didn't think we were ready to play in probably the first 10 minutes of the game,'' he said. "Eventually we got into it, but it wasn't the start we wanted, we were on our heels . . . the first 10 minutes were critical on a team we'd beaten (5-1) the night before.''
The loss continued UND's pattern of inconsistency since opening the season with five straight wins. Since then, UND (9-6-3 overall, 3-4-1-1 NCHC) has won just four of 13 games and never more than two in a row.
"Very inconsistent,'' Berry said of UND's play to this point of the season. "We've had success, then we lose a game or two,'' he said. "In order to make ground up in the second half and do the things we want to do like last year (national champs), we have to havce consistency in our play.''
The Broncos (8-5-3 overall, 4-5-1-1 NCHC) were outshot 33-22 by UND, but rode solid play by Blecker and superb penalty killing to spit the weekend series.
UND is now off until a non-conferece game at Union on Dec. 30. Neither Boeser nor Jost will be available for that game because of World Juniors.
"A couple of weeks off, optimistically, hopefully each guy, when we go home, we can think about this and think about why our season has been so up and down and why we lack consistency . . . hopefully can get it figured out,'' junior defenseman Tucker Poolman said.