UND knocks off Western Michigan
Dell makes 25 saves as Sioux advance to second round
ST. PAUL, Minn. — North Dakota ended up with a familiar result even with a new look for Saturday’s NCAA hockey regional semifinals.
Michael Parks, Corban Knight and Brock Nelson scored for North Dakota in Saturday’s 3-1 win against Western Michigan to advance to Sunday’s regional finals.
Aaron Dell made 25 saves for UND, which wore new jerseys for the first time with the North Dakota name spelled on the front due to an NCAA ban deeming the school’s Fighting Sioux nickname to be “hostile and abusive.”
The ban is in place for NCAA tournament play, but it’s an issue the school and some supporters are still trying to fight with a state law, which goes to a referendum vote in June.
“It hasn’t been an issue for our hockey team,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “You’ve got to remember, we’ve dealt with it over, really, over two seasons. I don’t mean to make light of it in any way, shape or form. And I’m certainly not doing that.
“But I think (team captain) Mario Lamoreaux said it best, `We came here to try and win a hockey game.’ That was our main focus and he wasn’t just saying that. That was truly our main focus.”
Parks scored his 12th goal of the season and Knight added his 16th to give the region’s top seed a 2-0 lead, and Nelson scored his 28th with an empty-net tally with 25 seconds left as North Dakota (26-12-3) won its eighth straight game.
UND is 11-2 all time in NCAA regional games and has been to the Frozen Four in five of Hakstol’s first seven seasons, the most of any school.
North Dakota will play the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal between Minnesota and Boston University for the right to advance to the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla., on April 5-7.
Making its 10th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, UND is 14-2-1 in its past 17 games.
“We’re on a roll right now, and I got a lot of help from my linemates on all those goals,” said Parks, who’s scored goals in three straight games dating to last weekend’s tournament in the same arena.
Kyle O’Kane scored his seventh goal of the season for Western Michigan and freshman goaltender Frank Slubowski finished with 24 saves, but the Broncos fell to 0-6 in NCAA tournament games.
“It’s the first time I have been through this in the dressing room,” said Western Michigan coach Andy Murray, who finished his first season as coach after 10 seasons as a head coach in the NHL. “We have five seniors who won’t wear the Broncos’ jersey anymore, but the job they have done for this university is very commendable and they will always be Broncos.”
Western Michigan advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year for the first time in school history.