UND Finishes Sweep of Anchorage, Surges in StandingsBrock Nelson scored two more goals Saturday night, Danny Kristo had a highlight-reel tally and center Corban Knight had a fourth point on the weekend as UND overwhelmed Alaska Anchorage 4-1 in Sullivan Arena to complete a series sweep.
By: Brad Elliott Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Pony Express line, featuring Matt Frattin, Brad Malone and Evan Trupp, is gone.
But UND has found a pretty good replacement at the top of the line chart.
Brock Nelson scored two more goals Saturday night, Danny Kristo had a highlight-reel tally and center Corban Knight had a fourth point on the weekend as UND overwhelmed Alaska Anchorage 4-1 in Sullivan Arena to complete a series sweep.
The win helped UND improve to 8-7-1 overall and 6-6 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, where the team has jumped from 11th to a tie for fourth in just a two-week span on the heels of four straight victories.
“This is huge for us,” said defenseman Ben Blood, who had UND’s other goal. “Really, really big. I think if we came in here and only got one win or no wins, that puts us back to Square One. We kept moving forwards this weekend. It’s huge for momentum. It’s huge for our team. It’s huge for our confidence and our mentality.”
The top line again took center stage.
Nelson finished the weekend with four goals. He has seven goals in the last four games to bump him up to 14 for the season – one behind the WCHA’s leader, Minnesota forward Nick Bjugstad. In WCHA games only, Nelson leads the league with 12 tallies.
In fact, he is slightly ahead of where Frattin was at this time last season. Frattin had 13 goals in his first 16 games and went on to lead the country with 36.
“I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’ll take it, I guess,” Nelson said.
After being shut out 1-0 by Bemidji State three weeks ago, UND’s top line has racked up 27 points in the last four games. The trio has been together for 11 games in all (7-4). In the seven wins, they have combined for 41 points.
“Get 2-9 the puck,” Blood said, referring to Nelson’s number.
One night after Brad Eidsness stopped 26 of 28 shots to lead UND to a victory, the team turned to Aaron Dell, who responded with an outstanding effort in making 19 saves. Many of them were difficult.
“The only thing that got by him tonight was a deflection off of a knee that he had no opportunity on,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “I thought Aaron Was key. He did a great job. There were some key saves in the middle part of the third period tonight when we were killing two minor penalties in a row. I thought he was very good. Sporadically, he had to make some good saves. We had good goaltending both nights up here.”
Things started well for UND, which cashed in on an early power play thanks to a good bounce. Defenseman Dillon Simpson dumped a puck in the zone. Anchorage goalie Chris Kamal went out to play it, but it hit something in the corner and deflected to the slot, where Nelson buried it in the open net.
After Anchorage’s Sam Mellor scored a power-play goal at 7:41 of the first period – a shot that went off of Blood – UND took control in the second.
The Seawolves had just one shot on goal in the frame and it came with just 3:45 remaining. On the other end, UND scored three times to blow open the game.
Blood scored a power-play goal, wristing a shot from the right circle through Kamal’s five-hole. Then, Danny Kristo outskated Anchorage defenseman Corbin Karl as he cut across the slot, before moving the puck to his forehand and roofing a shot just as he was about to run out of room. Nelson scored the third one on a wrister from the right circle.
UND cruised through the final 20 minutes to finish off its fourth win in a row. More important, the team turned around its road record.
“We talked about that,” Hakstol said. “Sioux hockey is taking a lot of pride in being a good road team for a lot of years. We were 1-5 coming into this weekend (on the road), so I think that was something that was on our minds. It’s something we talked about.”
It also may be UND’s last trip to the Last Frontier for a while. The teams only play in Ralph Engelstad Arena next season. After that, they will move to different leagues.
“Time will tell,” Hakstol said. “We like coming up here. Hopefully, we’ll be back.”
Notes: UND wore green jerseys for the second day in a row. . . Lamoureux’s older brother, Jacques, attended the game. Jacques completed his college hockey career in March for Air Force Academy and is now stationed at nearby Elmendorf Air Force Base. . . The parents of former UND forward Evan Trupp, Rick and Brenda, also attended the weekend series. They live in Anchorage. . . The game marked UND’s last true road game until Jan. 20 at St. Cloud State. UND plays a neutral-ice game in Winnipeg against Clarkson on Jan. 7.