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The puck dinged off the pipe and the home fans cheered. It was one of the few times something went Omaha’s way, and it occurred late in the second period when No. 7 North Dakota was on the power play, leading the Mavericks 6-0 and still pressing.
With a full team – back from both international play and injuries – UND scored five goals in the first period and never looked back, winning 9-1 and handing No. 18 Omaha its most lopsided losses at home in program history.
It was the Fighting Hawks’ largest margin of victory since 2011, and it came on a night full of question marks that all turned out positive.
One of those was Brock Boeser’s status in his first game since sustaining an injury in November. It didn’t take long for the answer as the sophomore notched two goals, including the first at 3:30 in the opening period.
“I just wanted to help contribute, and be an energy guy and make sure I’m working the hardest out there,” Boeser said. “And I think our whole team played a 60-minute game and I definitely had success because of that.”
Another Fighting Hawks forward hoped to bring the same mentality to Omaha, he just had a few more hurdles to make it happen.
Playing in his third game in three nights, Tyson Jost chipped in a first-period score. The freshman flew in from Montreal, Canada, and played one night after competing against the United States in the gold-medal game for the Canadian World Junior team on Thursday.
He arrived in Omaha late, only three hours before puck drop, following an unexpected flight change that made things complicated. But the freshman re-hydrated, took a 30-minute nap and hit the rink for a pregame skate, taking part in the third leg of perhaps the most hectic stretch of hockey in his career.
“That’s got to be a first for sure,” Jost said “I’ve had three in threes in the BCHL and sometimes in the U18s and U17s when I’m playing for Canada but nothing with travel like that and nothing with 30 minutes to an hour of sleep.”
While Omaha and UND have competed in epic contests atop the standings the past three seasons, the Fighting Hawks have won the last four match-ups, including three in a row in Baxter Arena.
“There wasn’t one thing other than (Austin) Ortega scoring the one goal that I thought was good,” Omaha coach Dean Blais said.
Questioning if nerves got to the players, Blais was surprised after he thought the team skated for a good week of practice. Having shocked UND before home and away still in recent memory, the Mavericks are determined to put this one behind them and focus on picking up the pieces for a potential split.
“That’s the beauty of college hockey, you play a two-game series,” Omaha defenseman Luc Snuggerud said. “We lost by eight goals tonight but a loss is a loss. We’re going to move on from that and look forward to tomorrow and get our three points and take the split and roll with it.”
Despite coming out on the right side of a 9-1 game, North Dakota’s takeaway was similar to Omaha’s.
“Biggest thing for us tonight is knowing that the game is over and tomorrow it starts 0-0 again,” UND coach Brad Berry said.
For Jost, it’s another game and a shot at a sweep that would wrap up his series return to college play nicely.
“Tomorrow is obviously going to be even harder because it’ll be the fourth game in four nights,” Jost said. “It’s going to be a battle, but I know I’m up for it and I want to help this team win a game here and try and get the sweep.”
Miami 3, No. 20 St. Cloud State 2
Blake Winiecki’s late power-play goal put the Huskies ahead with just over three minutes to play, but the RedHawks’ Josh Melnick scored with less than a minute remaining to force overtime and then tallied the game-winner at 1:13 in overtime.
Minnesota Duluth 2, Colorado College 2
Neal Pionk scored 18 seconds into the 3-on-3 overtime to give the Bulldogs the extra NCHC point. Alex Leclerc of the Tigers made 43 saves.
No. 3 Denver 5, Arizona State 1
The Sun Devils struck first when Wade Murphy scored on the power play midway through the first, but the Pioneers answered with four second-period goals – two by freshman Henrik Borgstrom – and another in the third to break a three-game winless streak