MINNEAPOLIS — After both teams lost in the NCHC semifinals by identical 4-2 scores, North Dakota and Denver tied 1-1 in the NCHC third-place game on Saturday afternoon.
Nick Schmaltz scored for the Fighting Hawks, while Danton Heinen tied it for the Pioneers with 6:39 remaining in regulation.
See the tournament bracket and get links to schedules and stories at NCHC Playoff Central.
“Regardless of what the situation is, you have to show up and play the game,” UND forward Drake Caggiula said. “You don’t look at it as if it doesn’t mean anything because it has an effect on PairWise and has an effect on your momentum heading into the national tournament.”
The Fighting Hawks came out in the first period playing the third-place game as if it were any other. UND was able to keep the puck in Denver’s zone and pepper Pioneers goaltender Evan Cowley with eight shots in the first period.
The continuous pressure paid off as Schmaltz was able to trickle the puck through Cowley’s pads and put the Hawks up 1-0. It marked the second goal of the tournament for Schmaltz, with an assist from linemate Brock Boeser.
While UND’s offense was humming, the defense and special teams were able to keep Denver in check. UND goalie Cam Johnson had to make a couple of big saves, but overall, the Hawks kept the Pioneers’ offense at bay by allowing only five shots all first period, even when Denver went on two power plays.
Unlike the evening before against Minnesota-Duluth, UND keep up the pressure against Denver in the second period. But while the offensive energy was there, the goal scoring was not.
Cowley was challenged throughout the period and had to do everything in his power to keep Denver in the game as the Fighting Hawks poured on another 10 shots to Denver’s four. The cliche that the goal post is a goalie’s best friend rang true, as UND hit the post three different times in the second period and four times overall.
The momentum shifted slightly at the end of the second period Denver drew a penalty seconds after UND’s Boeser hit the post.
Just like the night before against St. Cloud State, Denver found some life in the third period. The Pioneers wouldn’t capitalize on the power play to start the period, but fans wouldn’t have to wait much longer for a Denver goal.
Sophomore Heinen snuck the puck by the pad of Johnson to tie the game up at 1-1 at 13:21.
The scoring ended there as the third period ended without a winner and in overtime, things weren’t much different.
Denver pressed UND throughout the extra frame and created some quality scoring opportunities but they were to no avail and the game ended in a tie.
“It’s another NCHC battle. We saw two good teams play against each other and it resulted in a tie, which happens,” North Dakota coach Brad Berry said. “I am proud of the way our guys persevered and battled. They battled right until the end.”
Both teams will now shift their focus to the NCAA tournament, with regional games starting on March 25.