HOUGHTON - It was 1-1 just two minutes into Saturday's Michigan Tech vs. North Dakota series finale, but then UND's top line came up big again.
After combining for nine points in Friday's 6-1 win, Danny Kristo, Corban Knight and Mark MacMillan each scored a goal the rest of the way in a 4-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association win over the Huskies, North Dakota's first sweep of the season.
No. 8-ranked UND (10-5-3, 7-2-3 WCHA) has now won seven straight games at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena and 21 of the last 23 against Tech (4-10-3, 3-8-3 WCHA), which is now winless in seven straight games.
Michigan Tech senior defenseman Steven Seigo battles for the puck against North Dakota’s Joe Gleason during Saturday night’s 4-1 UND win at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
"Their top players were their top players. They played well. Their goaltending was good, solid defensively. Really in all facets of the game they did a good job," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "It was a tough game. I give a lot of credit to North Dakota. They won our league championship last year. You can see why. That's where we're trying to get our program to."
UND picked up where it left off Friday in the goal-scoring department, and Colten St. Clair beat Tech senior goaltender Kevin Genoe five-hole only 1:30 into the game.
But Tech sophomore forward David Johnstone answered with his fourth goal of the season just 28 seconds later, cashing in on a Clarke Saunders' rebound of Ryan Furne's power-play point shot.
North Dakota 2 2 0 - 4
Michigan Tech 1 0 0 - 1
First period - 1, UND, Colten St. Clair (Joe Gleason, Brendan O'Donnell), 1:30; 2, MTU, David Johnstone 4 (Jujhar Khaira, Ryan Furne), 1:58 PP; 3, UND, Danny Kristo (Nick Mattson, Corban Knight), 6:47. Penalties - UND, Connor Gaarder (unsportsmanlike conduct), 1:30; MTU, Chad Pietila (slashing), 2:50; UND, Knight (interference), 2:54; Kristo (tripping), 19:51.
Second period - 4, UND, Knight (Kristo, Andrew MacWilliam), 6:20; 5, UND, Mark MacMillan (Kristo, Derek Forbort), 16:22. Penalties - MTU, C. Pietila (slashing), 4:37; UND, O'Donnell (slashing), 4:37; MTU, Blake Hietala (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:59; UND, Dan Senkbeil (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:59; UND, Derek Rodwell (interference), 17:58; UND, Forbort (tripping), 17:58; MTU, TEAM (too many men), 19:18.
Third period - No scoring. Penalties - MTU, Tommy Brown (high sticking), 1:39; MTU, David Johnstone (hooking), 6:05; MTU, Jimmy Davis (boarding), 8:00; MTU, Jujhar Khaira (tripping), 11:09; UND, MacWilliam (interference), 13:45; MTU, Alex Petan (slashing), 14:16; UND, Forbort (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:16.
Goalies UND, Clarke Saunders (32 shots, 31 saves); MTU, Kevin Genoe (44 shots, 40 saves).
"We just came out and decided to set a tone that we're going to go to war tonight," said Johnstone, who played the game with added shoulder padding in his second game back from injury. "We were mad about (Friday) night, so just came out hard, let them know they're in for a battle."
In addition to the two goals, there were also three penalties in the first three frantic minutes of the game. Tech outshot UND 6-3 in the first six minutes, but unfortunately for the Huskies, North Dakota scored on only its third shot as Kristo made it 2-1 at 6:47 with a top-shelf shot from the right faceoff dot.
Tech had an 11-5 shot advantage at the midway point of the period, but UND outshot Tech 7-1 before a late Kristo penalty and intermission (temporarily) halted the visitors' momentum.
North Dakota came out strong in the second, and Knight notched his third goal of the weekend at the 6:20 mark, with a shot from the slot after a pass from Kristo. Kristo also had the two-on-one assist to MacMillan 10 minutes later.
UND's top line had a 15-point weekend, and Knight now has 15 points in 12 career games against Tech. Kristo has 14 points in eight career games against the Huskies.
"They did a good job in a lot of situations, not just offensively," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "They played well and did what we asked them to do. They were responsible on both ends of the rink and made a lot of plays this weekend, and a couple game-changing plays again tonight."
Tech had a pair of prime opportunities to get back in the game as C.J. Eick was hauled down on a breakaway. Dennis Rix then attempted the first Tech penalty shot since Oct. 27, 1997, but Saunders came up big.
He quietly saved 31 of 32 shots Saturday, and 65 of 67 during the weekend (.970 save percentage).
"For us the key was critical plays at critical times," Hakstol said.
"Tonight we got some critical saves at key times, and I thought we finished on some plays at key times in the hockey game that allowed us to extend it to a three-goal lead."
Tech was outshot 16-10 in each of the last two periods, and penalties further destroyed any chance of a comeback.
While each team was called for nine minor penalties in the game, Tech notched five of its infractions almost in succession in the third period. The Huskies were shorthanded for 9 minutes, 44 seconds of the final 20 minutes.
"We got a little undisciplined in the third period, and that disappointed me maybe more than anything else," Pearson said. "You're trying to get back in the game and give yourself a chance, and we got away from our game. Whether they were good calls, bad calls, I'm not a referee, but you can't put yourself in that position."
While the Huskies weren't able to generate many late opportunities - and the ones they had were either from a long way out or short on puck luck - at least they killed off all six UND power plays. It's only the sixth time in 17 games Tech did not allow a power-play goal, and the penalty kill has now "improved" to 76.6 percent, seventh-worst in the country.
Tech will now practice today through Wednesday before taking a Christmas break until Dec. 26, when the team will reconvene in Detroit for the 48th annual Great Lakes Invitational. The Huskies will face the Michigan Wolverines, from whom Pearson was an assistant coach for for 23 years before taking his current position at Tech, at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 29. They will then either face Michigan State or Western Michigan on Dec. 30 at Joe Louis Arena.