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Denver, UND Start 2020 with Series-Opening Wins at Home

By NCHC, 01/03/20, 11:30PM EST

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NCHC teams go 2-0-2 in non-conference play Friday as WMU, Omaha tie on road

Friday, January 3, 2020 Scores

  • No. 1/1 North Dakota 5, Alabama-Huntsville 2
  • No. 7/5 Denver 4, No. 9/9 Massachusetts 2
  • No. 19 Western Michigan 1, No. 15 Notre Dame 1 (OT)
  • Omaha 2, Maine 2 (OT)

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) started the new year in strong fashion, going unbeaten in four non-conference games Friday night as NCHC teams combined to go 2-0-2. Both wins came at home, while both ties came on the road. No. 7/5 Denver scored three goals in the third period, including the game-winner in the final three minutes, to rally past No. 9/9 Massachusetts for a 4-2 win in a rematch of last year’s NCAA Frozen Four semifinal. Also collecting a win Friday was top-ranked North Dakota, which pulled away from Alabama-Huntsville for a 5-2 victory, stretching its unbeaten streak to an NCAA-best 14 games and win streak to eight games. Omaha held two separate one-goal leads, but Maine answered each time as the Mavericks settled for a 2-2 overtime tie in Orono, Maine. Returning from a 26-day layoff, No. 19 Western Michigan handily outshot No. 15 Notre Dame, but only found the back of the net once in a 1-1 overtime draw in South Bend.

No. 7/5 DENVER 4, No. 9/9 UMASS 2
Behind a three-goal third period, No. 7/5 Denver rallied past No. 9/9 Massachusetts for a 4-2 win Friday at Magness Arena. After a scoreless first period, Matthew Kessel put UMass (13-5-1) in front with a long shot from the blue line early in the second stanza. DU (12-4-3) answered a few minutes later when sophomore defenseman Slava Demin came flying down the slot and buried a wrister off a feed from classmate Cole Guttman. The Minutemen regained the lead a few minutes after that, however, setting up Denver’s third-period comeback. Senior forward Tyson McLellan tied the game at 2-2 five minutes into the final frame, deflecting a shot from Demin. Then, with only 2:07 remaining in the game, Guttman played the role of hero, back-handing a shot from a bad angle off UMass goalie Filip Lindberg’s back and into the net for the game-winner. An empty-net goal then sealed DU’s victory and exacted some revenge after falling to UMass in last year’s Frozen Four. The Pioneers outshot the Minutemen, 33-22, in the win, while the teams were a combined 0-for-9 on the power play.

No. 1/1 NORTH DAKOTA 5, ALABAMA-HUNTSVILLE 2
After a slow start, top-ranked North Dakota woke up and pulled away from Alabama-Huntsville for a 5-2 win Friday at Ralph Engelstad Arena, as the Fighting Hawks (15-1-2) improved to 10-0-0 at home this season. The win also pushed UND’s unbeaten streak to an NCAA-best 14 games (13-0-1) and winning streak to eight games. Junior forwards Grant Mismash and Jordan Kawaguchi each scored two goals, while classmate Collin Adams tied a career high with three assists for North Dakota. UAH (1-15-3) struck quickly, however, taking the lead only 18 seconds into the game. Kawaguchi then pulled UND even late in the first frame, while Mismash put them in front early in the second stanza after a long outlet pass from sophomore goalie Adam Scheel. The Chargers again tied the game, but Mismash’s second goal of the night midway through the middle period served as the difference and put the Fighting Hawks up for good. Kawaguchi then added some separation late in the third period with his second of the game, while an empty-netter sealed the victory. UND outshot UAH, 36-15, while both teams went 0-for-4 a man up.

No. 19 WESTERN MICHIGAN 1, No. 15 NOTRE DAME 1 (OT)
In a tightly contested contest, No. 19 Western Michigan generated plenty of chances, but had to settle for a 1-1 overtime tie at No. 15 Notre Dame Friday at the Compton Family Ice Arena in its first game in nearly a month. Freshman forward Jason Polin had the first chance to put WMU (7-7-3) in front in the first frame, but his penalty shot was saved. The Fighting Irish (9-7-3) then opened the scoring themselves midway through the second period as Cam Morrison reached for a loose puck in front of net and knocked it around the outstretched leg pad of freshman goalie Brandon Bussi. The Broncos responded right away, however, as senior defenseman Luke Bafia tied the game less than a minute later with a quick wrister that snuck in between the near post and the goalie’s arm for his first goal of the season. The game remained level at 1-1 after 60 minutes and headed to overtime. WMU appeared to score in the extra session, as the puck ricocheted in the net off a Notre Dame player, but it was ruled no goal after review as a WMU player was in the net and the game ended a tie. Western Michigan outshot the Irish, 43-33, in the tie, while the teams went 0-for-5 on the power play combined.

OMAHA 2, MAINE 2 (OT)
In a back-and-forth affair, Omaha led twice, but Maine answered each time as the two sides played to a 2-2 overtime tie Friday night at Alfond Arena in Orono, Maine. The Mavericks (8-8-3) moved to 6-3-2 in non-conference play this season with the draw against the Black Bears (9-8-4). Junior forward Kevin Conley opened the scoring for Omaha, midway through the first period, finishing a feed from sophomore Taylor Ward. The teams then traded power play goals in the second stanza, with Maine’s Tim Doherty tying the game with his first goal of the night, but freshman forward Ryan Brushett answered two minutes later for his first career goal, again putting UNO in front. That lead didn’t last either, however, as Doherty found the net a second time early in the third period to force the tie. Maine outshot Omaha, 48-43, in the tie, with freshman goaltender Austin Roden making a career-high 46 saves for the Mavericks.

UP NEXT
All four non-conference series conclude over the next two days. Three of the series wrap up Saturday, starting with Omaha and Maine at noon ET, as the teams make the short trek to Portland, Maine for the series finale. On Saturday night, DU goes for a sweep of UMass, while UND looks to extend its unbeaten streak in the series finale with Alabama-Huntsville. Western Michigan and Notre Dame then conclude their home-and-home series on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET in Kalamazoo. The DU, UND and WMU games can all be seen on NCHC.tv.

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