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Clash of ranked teams ends in a stalemate

Many eyes were fixed on the goings-on in Oxford, Ohio, this weekend, which hosted a two-game NCHC set between fourth-ranked Miami and No. 12 Omaha. A series that appeared to have “split” written all over it ended that way, with Miami winning big by an 8-2 count on Friday before UNO came away with a 5-2 victory the following night.

UNO actually opened the scoring on Friday when David Pope put a puck past RedHawks goaltender Jay Williams 4:14 into the game. Things then quickly went south for the Mavericks, however, as Miami reeled off seven unanswered goals, with five of them coming in the second period.

Mavericks goaltender Ryan Massa, who has led a young UNO team to a surprising level of success in the first half of this season, struggled on Friday. He only lasted until 9:41 into the second period before coach Dean Blais pulled him in favor of sophomore Kirk Thompson.

Saturday’s rematch was much more to Blais’ and Massa’s liking. Massa redeemed himself with a stellar 40-save performance while his Mavericks teammates got the job done at the other end of the ice.

Miami (11-5-0, 7-3-0-0 NCHC) is now off until Dec. 28 when it takes on Notre Dame in the Florida College Classic. UNO (8-4-2, 4-3-1-1) will host St. Cloud State this upcoming weekend.

North Dakota survives scare

The USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll hasn’t seen much continuity at the top in recent weeks. It’s a little unlikely, but we might have yet another new No. 1 on Monday depending on how pollsters see things.

North Dakota went into this weekend ranked No. 1 in the country, but it put itself in real danger of losing that spot on Friday. Non-conference opponent Lake Superior State — which lost a combined 10-0 at home in two games against Minnesota State a week ago — came into Grand Forks, N.D., on Friday and began the game by punching well above its weight.

UND coach Dave Hakstol opted to give freshman goaltender Cam Johnson the first start of his collegiate career on Friday, but it went poorly. After giving up two first-period goals to the Lakers, Johnson was pulled in favor of Zane McIntyre 54 seconds into the second frame when a third LSSU goal went in.

Lake State eventually pushed its lead to 4-1, but UND came roaring back from there. In scoring six goals in the final 27:25 of the game, UND won 7-4 and, in so doing, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Saturday’s rematch provided somewhat less of a hassle for UND. The team went 2-for-4 on its power play opportunities in the game, and it was largely because of that that UND came away with a 3-1 win to clinch a sweep of its series with the Lakers.

UND (12-3-2, 5-2-1-0) will face a much tougher test this next weekend when it visits No. 10 Denver for a big rivalry series.

Duluth weathers storm before clinching sweep

Just as UND had a tough time with a perceived lesser opponent on Friday, so, too, did Minnesota-Duluth.

The Bulldogs welcomed to Amsoil Arena a Colorado College team that had lost each of its five NCHC games so far this season and that had only three wins to its name under first-year coach Mike Haviland.

CC’s league record dropped to 0-7 with a pair of losses to UMD, but the Tigers weren’t about to go quietly. They proved that on Friday in a 3-2 overtime win for Duluth, with Kyle Osterberg netting the game-winner 3:32 into the extra session to spoil a 30-save performance from CC goalie Chase Perry.

The Bulldogs had a much easier time in Saturday’s series finale, which ended up 7-2 to UMD. Duluth scored each of the game’s first four goals before cruising to victory.

UMD is now 11-5-0 overall and 7-3-0-0 in the league, which puts the Bulldogs level with Miami for first place in the NCHC with 21 points. Duluth will hit the road this week to face fifth-ranked Michigan Tech.

CC (3-10-0, 0-7-0-0) is also on the road this next weekend, with the Tigers visiting Western Michigan.