GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Instead of falling back into its tendency of posting slow starts, North Dakota rose to the challenge Friday night and managed to avoid a common theme this season.
Thanks to an explosion of goals in the second period, North Dakota claimed a 7-1 victory over Niagara on Friday night in front of 11,161 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
“I thought we started well,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “I thought that was probably the key. I thought we started well and played a real simple game. I thought our first period, we earned the lead and we were able to carry that through and stretch it out a little.”
Now 5-5-1 on Fridays, North Dakota used its speed to tally the first goal halfway through the first period and never let off the gas.
Bryn Chyzyk and Austin Poganski each tallied two goals for North Dakota, while Poganski and his linemates helped UND notch three goals in less than four minutes as the second period began.
UND put itself on the board first with a goal from Bryn Chyzyk, who put the puck five-hole past Jackson Teichroeb (13 saves) at 10:23 of the first period.
When Vince Muto made an attempt to clear the puck, his spin pass found Stephane Pattyn’s stick minutes later at 14:20 to give North Dakota a 2-0 lead.
UND never lost momentum, posting three goals to open the second frame, the first a Tucker Poolman one-timer from the point on the power play at 2:52 before Poganski sniped Brendan O’Donnell’s rebound in just 37 seconds later.
Ardian Ignagni (22 saves) stepped in between the pipes to replace Teichroed, but O’Donnell solved the goaltender right away when he put the puck in the open side of the net at 6:08 on a feed from Connor Gaarder up front. The senior kept North Dakota all-time record at 18-0-1 when he scores.
Poganski sent the visitors into a six-goal deficit with his tip in of a Jordan Schmaltz rebound at 10:50.
“It’s nice to get rewarded,” O’Donnell said. “To see guys like [Poganski] get rewarded and [Gaarder] get some assists there and for us. We just kind of go out and play our game. I don’t think we’re trying to really worry about points. We’re playing our game and that’s why we’re having success here.”
Hakstol was pleased with the line’s ability to capitalizes on chances.
“Those guys are just playing well,” Hakstol said. “They’re playing simple, fast. When you look at the type of goals they’re scoring — their line scored two rebounds and a tap in from the top of the crease tonight. They’re playing good hockey. That’s how you have to play to score. You watch the number of players around the blue paint, there’s not a lot of fancy plays to be had there, they’re playing their way.”
Chyzyk broke up a scoreless first half of the third period when he entered the zone and sniped one in the net from the circle at 12:20.
Despite a six-goal deficit and a winless record in its past eight games, Niagara kept its focus.
“I just liked our compete level,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “We had guys still finishing checks and trying to get pucks deep and working hard, and that’s all we ask.”
The Purple Eagles managed to tally a point and foil a Zane McIntyre (27 saves) shutout, but Albin Karlsson’s goal at 14:10 was all the team could muster as North Dakota skated away with the 7-1 victory.
“Certainly not the effort or the result we were looking for,” Burkholder said. “We didn’t get much help from our goalies early on. I’d say out of their first four, two were bad. You can’t give up bad goals and expect to stay in a game in this environment with a team that has this much talent. But they were bigger, stronger and made more plays than we did.”