March 1, 2014 PRINT Bookmark and Share

North Dakota Gets Upper Hand

Many Races Coming Down to Wire

CHN Staff Report

North Dakota got the upper hand in the weekend battle for first place in the NCHC, using a five-goal second period to defeat St. Cloud State, 5-2. The win puts North Dakota in first place all alone in the league, with the teams set to play again Saturday.

“We were awful tonight. We were just plain awful," SCSU coach Bob Motzko said to the St. Cloud Times. “We weren’t skating. We weren’t moving our feet. We weren’t making plays. The first period we were awful, but we weren’t making mistakes. Then we started (the second with) turnover, turnover, bad line change.”

Connor Gaarder scored twice for North Dakota in the onslaught, part of a 17-3 shot advantage in the period.

“We came back strong in the second and they weren’t ready for that," North Dakota defenseman Nick Mattson said to the St. Cloud Times. “We got on them and we were relentless. ... I’ve been on the other side of that and it’s not fun when the other team keeps stepping on your throat.”

Elsewhere in the NCHC: Freshman Will Butcher ripped a wrist shot from deep in the high slot for a power-play goal with 10:23 left in regulation to break a 1-1 deadlock and lift Denver to a 4-2 win at Western Michigan. But Denver had other heroes, too.

"That line (Zac Larraza, Emil Romig, Gabe Levin) was terrific for us tonight,” Denver coach Jim Montgomery said. “Right before Christmas that line did a lot of good things for us and it was nice to see again. Sam (Brittain) was also outstanding in net, he made five saves tonight that normal goalies don’t make.”

Denver was playing without injured sophomore forward Quentin Shore, and junior defensemen Joey LaLeggia and Josiah Didier. Coming off a pair of losses at Colorado College last week, Denver vaulted back into fourth place with three games remaining. That's the final home-ice slot for the NCHC quarterfinals. ...

Josh Archibald scored his 28th and 29th goals of the season as Nebraska-Omaha routed Colorado College, 6-0.

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Colin Stevens stopped all 49 shots he faced as Union defeated Yale, 2-0. Yale dropped to sixth place, and a missed a huge opportunity to gain ground on Cornell and Colgate, which both lost. As a result, Yale cannot get a bye for the first round of the ECACs, and will host a series next weekend.

Yale gave up scores early in both the first and third period.

“We played a pretty good game, we had a lot of chances,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “It’s an exciting game when you get 49 shots on net … we gave them way too many as well.”

Union already has first place locked up and is firmly ensconced at No. 3 in the Pairwise.

"On some nights, your goaltender is going to save you, and tonight Colin did just that," Union coach Rick Bennett said.

Elsehwere in the ECAC: Quinnipiac got two goals each from Matthew Peca and Kellen Jones as it routed St. Lawrence, 8-0, to move back into a tie for second place with Colgate, which lost to Harvard.

Meanwhile, Cornell hung onto fourth place despite a 1-0 loss to Dartmouth, thanks to Yale's loss. Now Clarkson is just one point behind Cornell for fourth with one game remaining, after the Golden Knights defeated Princeton, 3-1.

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In Hockey East: Derek Army, Noel Acciari and Kyle McKenzie each had multi-point nights and Jon Gillies made 28 saves to lead Providence to a 4-2 win over Maine. With that result, the teams practically flip-flopped in the Pairwise, with Maine, at least for now, on the outside looking in.

With the win, Providence (18-9-6, 10-7-2 HEA) moved into a tie for third in the Hockey East standings and posted their first victory at Maine since Nov. 10, 2007.

Joe Houk scored with 15 seconds left in overtime to give Massachusetts-Lowell a 1-0 win at Vermont. The win clinched second place for Lowell, and a first-round bye in the Hockey East playoffs.

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In Atlantic Hockey: Niagara used four third-period goals to down visiting Air Force, 4-1. Chris Lochner scored with 16:16 left in the third period to level the game at one apiece and trigger the four-goal period. "It was a good win. It may not have been a pretty game on either end, but I thought we got through the penalty trouble in the second period and then had fight in the third period which led to a big two points for us," Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. "Air Force is a championship program so for us to get it gone like we did is huge. Playoff hockey for us started three weeks ago. We challenged the guys at the start of the Canisius series and I've been happy with how we've played since then."

Bentley secured a first-round bye with a 5-1 win over American International. Connecticut got a goal from Billy Latta in overtime to move into third place by itself. And Robert Morris earned a tie to move even with Air Force for the final bye spot with one game remaining.

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In the WCHA: Minnesota State recorded its third straight shutout and got two goals from Dylan Margonari to defeat Lake Superior State, 5-0. Cole Huggins was again the man in goal for the Mavericks, though like against Alabama-Huntsville last week, he didn't see many shots, only needing to make 14 saves. The win moved Minnesota State within two points of first-place Ferris State, which dropped a 4-1 decision at Alaska.

The game got ugly late for Ferris State, which had two players ejected in the closing minutes — Dakota Klecha and Brandon Anselmini. Alaska was 0-for-7 on the power play and had just 19 shots, but managed the win as it moved into a tie for fourth with Anchorage, albeit with a game in hand.

Huntsville got a goal from Jack Prince with 3:11 remaining in regulation to defeat Bemidji State, just its second win of the season, and the first for goaltender Matt LaRose, who made 40 saves.

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